In its third year, the Career Academy was able to broaden its reach to include all St. Clair County high schools, when it was previously limited to only Port Huron High School.
“We tried to work out the bugs and we’re still trying to work out the bugs,” said Pat Yanik, director of career and technical education at RESA. “But, it’s going really well. We’ve had good student behavior and good student engagement.”
Each high school is given four seats at the free, two-week summer program, allowing a total of 50 students to attend. Students apply for the spots and are chosen by their schools to attend the academy.
“We are looking for students who potentially are losing interest in school,” said Yanik. “We don’t want them to quit school. In many cases, once a student comes to the Technical Education Center and they find something they really enjoy, it helps them see the reason they are in high school and why they need to finish.”
Students entering the program have finished eighth grade and are getting ready to enter ninth grade. After their first summer studying construction trades and culinary arts, they are welcome to attend a second summer to study digital media and health careers.
Students must pass all classes during freshman year to be eligible to attend the second summer session. Students who successfully complete both sessions and maintain their grades at school are given an advantage in attending a TEC program of their choice.
“We hope this small TEC experience will get them to reconnect with their high school experience,” said Yanik. “Stay in school, pass you classes and we’ll do what we can to get you in the program.”
This summer’s academy has 14 second-year returning students and 38 new students.
The Career Academy provides a multi-year, tiered approach to helping high absentee and potentially non-college-bound students explore careers and learn the skills necessary to get and hold a job, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s website states.
The grant money will also pay for bussing the students from their respective high schools to the TEC building and back, breakfast and lunch each day, the teachers and the stipend for the additional math and language arts teachers.
The St. Clair TEC provides 11th- and 12th-grade students with practical experience in specific occupations before they graduate from high school.
The programs offered include automotive technology, collision repair, construction trades, cosmetology, culinary arts, digital media technology, employer-based, health careers, information technology, mechatronics, metal machining technology, welding technology and video game design.