Hamilton County Schools receives state funding to replicate the successful Gestamp apprenticeship program
Posted on 07/26/2019
Governor Lee with students from Gestamp ProgramHamilton County Schools has received a career and technical education program grant to develop additional apprenticeship opportunities for students based on the successful Gestamp apprenticeship program. The new state grant is called the Perkins Reserve and will provide $112,500 over three years for Hamilton County Schools to work with area businesses to develop additional advanced manufacturing apprenticeships to provide more opportunities to students in the community. The funding will provide $37,500 a year for the three years to develop the apprenticeship programs.

The Gestamp work-based learning program which will be the model for the new apprenticeships is the first in Tennessee to earn the U.S. Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship designation. The Gestamp is now a registered apprenticeship in advanced manufacturing that allows high school students to get a full-day work-based learning experience while also completing their education. Students take online academic classes in a computer lab at Gestamp and get actual work experience during the school day in the Gestamp plant.

“We will utilize the knowledge and experience gained with the current Gestamp work-based learning and apprenticeship program to create a streamlined approach to provide additional advanced manufacturing apprenticeship in Hamilton County Schools and expand the Gestamp model to other industries,” said John Maynard, director of Career and Technical Education for Hamilton County Schools. “Ultimately, this will provide numerous options for our students to gain genuine, meaningful work experiences while still in high school.”

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee visited the Gestamp program within the first month of taking office earlier this year. Governor Lee met with Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, during his visit to discuss career and technical education in Hamilton County Schools. The Governor also talked with students participating in the Gestamp program during his visit.

“We are working with the Chamber of Commerce and other business partners to set up more apprenticeship opportunities for students,” added Maynard. “If a manufacturer in the area is interested in working with us in the development of an apprenticeship, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss how these programs benefit students, businesses, and the community.”

The work-based learning apprenticeship programs are a perfect fit with the goals of Hamilton County Schools in the Future Ready 2023 five-year action plan. Preparing students for college and career is a goal in Future Ready 2023 just as creating pathways to help students be more successful after high school is a goal of apprenticeship programs. Students completing the program and earning industry certification will help the district meet the key performance indicator of students earning industry certifications or taking advanced coursework listed in the Focus Five targets in the action plan.

Hamilton County Schools will also start five Advanced Manufacturing programs next school year, including a new partnership with Chattanooga State involving TCAT and Advanced Manufacturing Production Assistant (AMPA) programs at Brainerd High and Lookout Valley Middle/High with help from Chattanooga 2.0 and a Chase Morgan grant.

Future Ready Institutes in Hamilton County Schools will also continue to grow with the start of the new school year as 27 institutes will be available for students in 13 high schools across the district. Over 50 organizations representing businesses, higher education, and non-profits in the community are participating in these career-themed schools within a school. Unum, EPB, Erlanger, UTC, BlueCross, See Rock City, and Bryan College have signed on as branded partners in the Future Ready Institutes to provide business expertise, work experiences and academic support to programs. The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce helped to develop four industry councils to advise the career programs providing pathways to future success for students.

“It is vital that graduates of Hamilton County Schools are post-secondary ready and prepared to succeed after high school and this grant from the state will allow the district to replicate a very successful program,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “The new apprenticeships will also build additional partnerships between our schools and business and industry in the area to build a brighter future for our graduates, their families, and our community.”

Photo Right: Students with Governor Bill Lee at Gestamp in February, (Pictured L to R): Michael Essex, Red Bank High; Joshuah Maddox, Hamilton County High; Justin Kelley, Hamilton County High; and Sherod Mitchell, Tyner Academy