Construction Students Benefit From Partnerships
Students enrolled in the construction trades program at Dade County High School are benefiting from real world experience, local partnerships, and have the opportunity to join the construction workforce directly out of high school.
The construction trades program, taught by instructor David Howard, is a part of the Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education Pathways. Career Pathway alignment allows students to take classes tailored to their interests. The construction pathway includes classes in carpentry, electrical and welding. Three classes complete a Pathway.
All of the pathway classes start with a class about occupational safety, and from there the students learn soft skills that employers are looking for. Each section in the pathway builds upon the first section.
“It’s very neat that Dade County is able to offer all the Pathways that we have. It’s not common for schools to have that many,” said Howard, who has taught for four years.
The construction trades program has been receiving a lot of support and is benefiting from local partnerships.
“We have received support in the past, but not to the scale that we are now. I have got the groundwork in place,” Howard said. “Now I am ready to start venturing out and building these relationships to where my kids are able to go out and get these jobs and reaping the benefit of the training, and all we have invested into this program.”
According to Howard, the program receives material donations as well as financial support, which allows them to purchase more materials for projects.
For example, Callahan Mechanical Contractors gave $5,000 to buy materials. J&J Contractors gave $1,000. Bull Moose Tube gave tons of steel for the welding class. Lowe’s a $50 gift card to all the SkillsUSA members, which amounted to $3,500. The $50 purchased a tool set for each SkillsUSA member.
The following local businesses are working with the construction trades program: Citizens Bank & Trust, Inc., Elder’s Ace Hardware, Bull Moose Tube, P&C Construction, Callahan Mechanical Contractors, C&S Tool and Machine, Vanguard, Southeast Lineman Training Center, Air Gas USA, Talley Construction, Century Fire Protection, M&M Industries, J&J Contractors, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Woodcraft, Walker Interiors, Steel-Plus, Wal-Mart, Harbor Freight and more. This is not a comprehensive list, and more partnerships are being added continuously.
“You are getting the reward for the kids, but in the meantime the sponsors are bettering your shop, because then you will teach the kids better,” Howard said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these businesses were also coming to the classroom to give presentations. These have been put on hold.
“When there is an industry partner that comes in and they tell the students the exact same thing that the teacher has been telling them, you can actually see a gleam in their eye. ‘Oh, we have heard that same thing for the past six weeks,’” Howard said. “The reward is that they tell the students, ‘Here is how you can get a job with us.’”
Howard continued, “It’s not just about the money. What I need is all the support. The best thing is when the companies hire our students. That’s my main goal, trying to get all of these students hired on. These students have realized that if they come to my class, fulfill my duties, they will have an opportunity to get a job that turns into a career.
Johnathan Bomar, a senior, said that there has been a lot of hands on experience in the class, and he has gained life skills.
“We learn problem solving, and integrity. We have to make sure we do things right the first time,” Bomar said.
After high school, Bomar said he may go into mechanics or into the military.
Ian King, also a senior, loves the freedom to build whatever they want to build, plus being able to give back to the community.
“More than likely I will go into carpentry. I have already learned so much, so I would like to further explore my options in that field,” King said.
Daniel Darby, in 11th grade, enjoys the class because he likes learning about the tools and how to use them.
“I enjoy the class and I have a lot of fun,” Darby said. “I don’t think I’ll go into carpentry, but it will be important to be able to know how to use the tools later in daily life.”
Some of the projects that the students have worked on include hunting houses, bird houses, Christmas tree decorations, picnic tables, American flags and rebuilding one of the bridges in the Wetlands.
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