MCTEA wins workforce education grant to propel architecture and construction students – Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — Mitchell High School junior Maya Gonzalez waved a sprayer back and forth as she looked to put the finishing touches on her woodworking project. A wooden bench that doubles as a storage chest is nearing completion, and she said she’s happy with the results so far.

“There’s going to be a piano hinge so I can store stuff inside,” Gonzalez said. “It started as a drawing and I found a sketch online with all the dimensions. It took a lot of sanding. And cutting. And help from Marty (Royston). And now it’s here.

Gonzalez is one of approximately 200 students who, according to the heads of schools at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy (MCTEA), will benefit from a recent Workforce Education Scholarship that was awarded to school by the state. This matching grant of $111,467, which was announced by the state in April, will be used to purchase improved equipment that should keep students on the cutting edge of industrial technology.

Marty Royston, professor of architecture and construction at MCTEA, said they already have their eyes set on the equipment they hope will help propel students forward in their search for lifelong skills as well as the opportunity of future employment.

“We have a lot of new things that we are going to receive. New technologies that will make work safer and many things that will further prepare them if they enter Mitchell Technical College or the workforce,” Royston said.

The equipment should include a large CNC router as well as a few portable CNC routers, as well as a real sawmill that can convert raw logs and lumber into usable wooden planks for construction projects.

The goal is to keep the experience high school students find at MCTEA on par with what they will encounter in a technical college environment, giving them an edge over their peers who may not have not have access to the same opportunities that a CTE academy can provide.

“Some of the things we get, if they went to a cabinet shop, are things they would see and use there. So they get their hands on it here, so they’re a bit more advanced than someone coming in with no experience,” Royston said.

A significant shortage of skilled workers continues to plague American industry, and entities like MCTEA, Mitchell Technical College and their industry partners are working to ensure a steady flow of these students into post-secondary classrooms or the actual labor.

“They are all looking for more people. The shortage is simply unbelievable. If we can give some kids the opportunity to think about college or Mitchell Tech (the latest tools), they will benefit from that extra experience, which will help our industry partners find better employees,” said Royston.

Shane Thill, Director of MCTEA, said students having access to the latest tools and technology are important in helping them determine if a particular discipline is something they want to pursue later in their career.

“It gives students the opportunity to see if this is a career path that interests them. That way when they go into that field they can say yes, that’s what I want to do because of the experiences I had in high school,” Thill said. “Because not all secondary school students have this opportunity. We are lucky to have our CTE Academy and lucky that our state recognizes the importance of having a grant like this.

MCTEA programs have already benefited from the grant thanks to the efforts of staff and administration. Royston worked with industry partners and Mitchell Tech to assess the skills sought by the school and these employers and provided information to Mitchell School District Superintendent Thill and Joe Graves, who wrote the grant application. .

Grants like this are essential to keep the program up to date and modern.

“It would be next to impossible to buy some of that kind of equipment because of the cost,” Thill said.

Maya Gonzales, a junior from Mitchell High School, applies a clear coat to a bench she built in a class at Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy. School officials say a recent grant awarded to the school will help students like Gonzales stay ahead of the game when it comes to preparing for a job in industry, a future in technical college or even owning their own home.

Erik Kaufman/Mitchell Republic

Nine South Dakota Workforce Education Grants, totaling $1,418,942, were awarded to public school districts in South Dakota in the latest round. In 2013, the South Dakota Legislature created the Workforce Education Fund. Part of this fund was intended to provide grants for vocational and technical education programs in secondary schools. Additional grants were awarded this year because the program is supplemented by $360,042 in federal dollars made available to the Department of Education through the U.S. bailout, according to a Department of Education press release. South Dakota Education.

“Vocational and technical education provides young people with hands-on learning opportunities and helps them connect their classroom experience to their education and career options after graduation,” said the Secretary at the Education, Tiffany Sanderson. “I commend these districts and their industry partners for providing cutting-edge programs in our middle and high schools.”

The goal of the grant program is to bring about transformative change to vocational and technical education programs offered in middle and high schools. High-quality CTE programs equip students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed to prepare for post-secondary education and the job market. Partnerships between secondary education, post-secondary education, business and industry lay the foundation for modern CTE programs.

Gonzales said she plans to use her skills at least as a hobby or for household chores, but the program has given her the ability to incorporate that work into a job or career if she chooses.

“I plan to do it as a hobby, my other professional (interest) is as a vet. It’s something I want to do. But it’s definitely something I will continue to do in the meantime,” said González said.

Thill also mentioned that MCTEA always encourages students to try out its programs. This is especially true for girls, who are traditionally underrepresented in certain technical occupations. Gonzalez said she has enjoyed her time working with wood and tools so far, and would encourage any student, boy or girl, to give it a shot, whatever their future plans may be.

“I would tell them not to listen to people who tell you you can’t do it, because if it’s something you want to do, you learn it once and then you keep going,” Gonzalez said. “And it’s something I can have for the rest of my life, because I built it. So enjoy it.

Thill agreed, saying programs like architecture and construction can provide students with lifelong skills, whether as a hobby, homeowner or future skilled worker in the field. . Giving these students a next-level advantage is the goal of courses at MCTEA.

“It gives them the opportunity to take it to the next level, whether it’s Mitchell Tech or in the industry,” Thill said. “That’s one of our goals – to provide our students here with the basic skills so they’re ready to take it to the next level and hopefully be a step ahead of their peers. at this moment.”

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Students Jason Bamsey and Austin Hohn recently worked on a shelving project at Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.

Erik Kaufman/Mitchell Republic

Other schools receiving a Workforce Education Grant in 2022 include Belle Fourche School District at $98,575, Bon Homme School District at $225,000, Bridgewater-Emery School District at $225,000, Brooking School District $150,000, Canistota School District $40,400, Florence School District $225,000, Spearfish School District $225,000, and Tea Area School District $118 $500.

More information about the Workforce Education Grant program can be found on the South Dakota Department of Education website.

Michael A. Bynum