By Dr. Bill MacDonald and Superintendent Art McCoy
Jennings School District, nationally known for its accomplishments and success, is an innovative school district in an identified US Promise Zone that has exceeded state accreditation standards for multiple years in the North St. Louis, Missouri. This urban school district with 98% African American students, and 100% of students on free & reduced lunch, has a 100% graduation rate. Now, Jennings is implementing a Career Prep Academy with seven workforce pathways--alongside of the College Prep Academy--to ensure all students are college or career ready and maintain its 100% college and career student placement for Jennings high school graduation.
Through a partnership with The Carpenters Regional Council of St. Louis and Kansas City, one of Jennings’ shining star programs is a Department of Labor registered apprenticeship program in advanced manufacturing, construction, and carpentry. Mr. David Goetz and Mr. Michael Daugherty, both Journeymen Carpenters, Safety Directors, and OSHA Trainers with the Carpenters Regional Council, prepare students for a career in construction and the manufacturing industry at Jennings Senior High School. Together, Jennings is building the future for its students through student building within the school district.
From August to October of 2016, a dozen of 17 and 18-year-old students at Jennings Senior High have built bird house, FIRST Robotics Competition Tables for EVO 4s, a wall in a cafeteria--60 ft drywall with Masonite, and studied and passed the assessment for forklift certification with high marks. Students spent time in the classroom and workshop learning about manufacturing & construction and mastering the tools of the trade.
Over the entire course, students will become competent in carpentry, cabinetmaking, metal working, painting, and welding skills and work to receive the following three certifications: (1) Powered Industrial Lift Truck, (2) OSHA-10 General Industry, and (3) OSHA-10 Construction.
There is a huge demand for young people in construction and industry. Vice-President of Butler Supply, Butler Mr. Sean Kenny, visited on Oct. 28, 2016 and spoke with the class about current job opportunities for people with the Powered Industrial Lift Truck certification, electrician experience, and more. Mr. Kenny mentioned that many electricians and plumbers are in their 50s and even 60s, making the case that we need young new workers to be prepared to enter the field as this experienced workforce retires. While the students were preparing for the forklift assessment, Mr. Kenny told the class to be the boss of this test and we have jobs for you. Sure enough, after this visit, every student passed that Powered Industrial Lift Truck Certification with 75% or better success.