Grants help FMCSD keep pedal down on CTE programs

Three of four students are in a CTE pathway at FMHS


FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison School District is keeping the pedal down on its Career Technical Education programs.
The district received more than $150,000 in statewide grants during a competitive process this year and the funds will go toward automotive, agriculture, health care, and construction programs already in place at the high school.
FMHS Co-principal Patrick Lamb said the district won five grants but applied for 13 as part of $1.7 million the state set aside in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) that was part of the federal response to the pandemic.
Lamb said the funding is the tail end of the ESSER funds and the district was fortunate to be able to secure funds to help more students be ready for life after high school.
The district has been at the forefront of vocational or career tech education for close to 10 years and is doubling down on those efforts with this additional funding.
“About half our kids intend to go onto a 2-year or 4-year school when they graduate. That’s one number we look at, and then the CTE completers are another,” Lamb said. “We’re ahead of the state average in that data, which doesn’t surprise me with the emphasis we’ve place on that starting with (former FMHS Principal) Greg Smith.”
He said FMHS Automotive instructor Jeff Gerdes came to him and asked if the district could apply for a Hunter Automotive Technologies grant to bring wheel certifications to students interested in automotive.
"Give some credit to Jeff. He came to us and wanted help writing the grant for Hunter Tech. I figured while we’re at it might as well try to write a few more. So we wrote 13 and were awarded five and we’re pretty pleased. Looks like the state did a nice job of allotting those.”
The district also received a $10,400 grant as part of an OSHA 10 certification for credentials in workplace safety and compliance. A Snap-On™ Precision Management grant will provide $51,700 to support mastering instruments and hand tools, including safety and proper usage, and follow-up assessments.
A Beef Quality Assurance grant will provide a birthing system for student to enhance knowledge in animal care, or husbandry, and food safety. There’s also an American Heart Association grant for about $9,000 to provide basic life support instruction and credentialing.
Lamb said the district has a nice variety in CTE programming and will likely be expanding that in the future as far as students being able to obtain credentials in the fields. Food safety and welding are two other areas that can provide students a path to careers right out of high school.
“That’s the real purpose for these credentials in general - to give kids the skills necessary to have success out of high school,” he said.
The district works with NC3, which is the National Coalition of Certification Centers, to have access to testing platforms recognized by industry leaders in various sectors. The end-goal being a pool of workers ready when they graduate.
“Anytime they can partner with states on that, they’re going to do that,” he said.
Lamb said currentl 3 out of 4 of the students at FMHS are considered a CTE “Completer” meaning they have taken a full line of courses in at least one CTE pathway. He said there are obviously crossover kids who are planning on attending a 2- or 4-year college after high school, but will go in with that much more information and possible credentials in line.
“Kids that want to go into a medical field are more than likely to end up going to college, as well. We  have quite a bit of interest there. Ag is another area with a fairly significant number of students who take courses and are involved in FFA, who may end up going to college for a wide array of things in the ag industry - sales, business, medical,” he said.
“We’re going places with the CTE and fantastic instructors. They are giving that relevant experience and, hopefully, with future grants, we can add on to that certification that employers can take advantage of.”

Fort Madison Community School District, FMHS, education, grants, vocational, programs, ESSER, Patrick Lamb, news, education, Pen City Current


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