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JAY COUNTY, Ind.–In 2013 then-governor Mike Pence visited Jay County High School. He told them, “Every student deserves the same opportunity for success, whether they want to go to college or start their career right out of high school,” said principal Chad Dodd. So, they started a separate school for technical education.

Two Plan As

This week, Dodd and other members of the Jay County school board, traveled to Washington and testified to the success of the Jay-Blackford Manufacturing Academy. Only 23 “innovators” who are running education and workforce development programs in their communities, were chosen to speak to the U.S. House Committee on Education.

“This is not about a plan A and a plan B. This is about two plan As. It advances the principle that all honest work is honorable work,” said Dodd. “The goal of this academy was to provide employability skills, certificates and credentials and internship opportunities for high school students interested in pursuing jobs in advance manufacturing.”

What Works

What Dodd said has worked for students in Jay County, and now seven other counties, including two in Ohio which are served by the school, is letting the employers choose the cirriculum, instructors and equipment.

He said it means those students are trained to go right to work for those companies, if they choose.

“The Jay-Blackford Manufacturing Academy is a perfect example of what can be achieved when Washington allows local leaders to develop solutions that best fit their communities,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.).

He said the academy will help relieve the shortage of skilled workers for jobs like advance manufacturing. Over 50 people have gotten certifications they need to work in their chosen fields from the academy.

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