Jobs for Michigan Graduates program coming to CASMAN

MANISTEE — The realization that college might not be the best path for every student is something that educators and legislators are agreeing upon more these days.CASMAN pic

Vocational education programs and apprenticeship ones are now being looked at as ways to help some high school students start down a road to a good paying job and career.

Manistee Intermediate School District superintendent Dave Cox has been a firm believer in vocational education with some of that coming from his tenure at the Wexford Missaukee Vocational Education Center.  In his new post as ISD superintendent, Cox works closely with CASMAN Academy because the MISD is their chartering agent and one of his goals is to increase vocational education type options for those students.

Cox announced this week that they are in the process of putting together some options for those students.

“We are excited to be bringing Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program to CASMAN Academy,” said Cox. “Jobs for Michigan’s graduates is a state based national non profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who have serious barriers to graduation or employment.”

CASMAN Academy director Shelly VanVoorst feels the program will be a good fit for her students.

“What I have learned about the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program is they like to start in the high schools and they have worked through the Michigan Works! program before for adult education and careers,” said VanVoorst. “When they are in the high schools they partner with the districts and then the Michigan Works! pays for part of the training, but it can also be a career tech education program only with on the job type of training included.”

VanVoorst said students will be able to earn credits for taking part in the program. She said some of the details still need to be worked out.

“They will get high school credits that go towards their high school diploma,” said VanVoorst. “It still is on the job type training. We are still working on what we need to have in place here to meet the requirements of the state.”

VanVoorst said she will be meeting with Cheryl Wolfram and Cathy Taylor from Michigan Works! and they will be determining how hours or each day and week the program will take up.

“They made it sound like it is very easy to get up and rolling with it,” said VanVoorst. “The jobs the student will be partnering with are located right here in town. It is during school hours and sometimes it is after school hours and it might lead to a part-time job for some of them.”

VanVoorst said prior to this opportunity the students didn’t always get some of those good work skills from some part-time employment.

“They didn’t always get those employability skills in place, unless they went through Michigan Works! as an adult, so we are excited about this opportunity,” said VanVoorst.”There is a need for workers out there in the trades and this is just a good step forward. A lot of the kids that attend our program like to do things with their hands, so it is a good fit for us, but something we didn’t know existed before Dave (Cox) let us know about it.”

The program targets working with the upper level high school students. She added that it has many benefits to it that assist the student along the path.

“They are talking about juniors and seniors like a career tech education type of program,” said VanVoorst. “They provide adult mentors which is part of the training. It gives them services after they graduate where they can continue to work with this program. It is a good support system starting here in a place where they are comfortable and then transferring into adulthood that has faces they are used to being there for at least another 12 months after they graduate. It’s almost what I feel we need here.”

The hopes are to get the program started yet this school year, but they may not get the on-the-job training portion of it up and running this year. VanVoorst said she looks forward to seeing how it all works out.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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