by Candy DenOuden for the Mitchell Daily Republic, June 9, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mitchell Technical Institute received a national award for its career preparation for students this week, officials announced.
MTI received the Career Preparedness Award from ACT, which honors a community college that “demonstrates superior career preparation and planning programs, great student outcomes and development of relationships with local employers and communities.”
Scott Fossum, director of secondary pathways at MTI, said this is the first time ACT has named a Career Preparedness Award winner.
“It’s very exciting,” Fossum said. “It’s recognition for a lot of cool things at Mitchell Tech.”
According to ACT, MTI demonstrated its merit for the award partly through its 99 percent job placement rate, a result of its “incredible connections with local employers.”
“The school makes sure that students are fully trained to start a career, not just a job, by involving local employers in its curricula development,” a press release states.
ACT honored MTI and other national exemplars Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at the third annual College and Career Readiness Gala. According to ACT, the gala recognizes notable schools, students and employers “for their contributions to education and economic progress.”
In his role at MTI, Fossum works with the school’s dual credit program, and with career exploration opportunities for middle and high school students.
Fossum said he sees the award as a pat on the back for MTI’s opportunities for prospective students, referencing its MyTi (My Technical Interest) Days camps and career expos. Things like the collaborative Career Expo, which ACT referenced as one of the things that sets MTI apart, help students see which continuing education opportunities are the best way for them to achieve their goals, according to Fossum.
“I think that really helps start connecting those dots, for those kids to see how that whole process can work for them,” he said.
He credits MTI’s high job placement rate to a couple of key factors, including the school’s curriculum, which offers programs in high-demand jobs. Fossum also said MTI’s strong working relationship with regional businesses is vital.
“They’re the ones who host our students for internships, they’re the ones who employ our students,” he said. “It’s key they have significant input into what these students are learning as they go throughout their programs.”
While Fossum said MTI has seen positive momentum in recent years, a national award like this helps reinforce the work MTI’s faculty, staff and administration have invested.
“It really lends a lot of credence to the things that we are doing, and helps verify that we’re heading down the right path with a lot of the opportunities that we provide for high school students that lead into their education with Mitchell Tech,” he said. “It’s really, it’s an award that all of Mitchell Tech has given input to receive.”
Other semi-finalists for the Career Preparedness Award were Valencia College in Orlando, Fla.; Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa; and Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, Neb.
ACT, a nonprofit best known for the ACT test, named one exemplar in each of four categories: the Student Readiness Award, the College and Career Transition Award, the Career Preparedness Award and the Workplace Success Award.
According to ACT, the gala was the capstone event in the ACT College & Career Readiness Campaign. The campaign attracted more than 30 state partners this year, which the organization said is a five-time increase from the first campaign two years ago. National exemplars were chosen by an external National Selection Committee of education, business and political leaders.
In addition to MTI’s award, Lamar Greene, of Richmond Community High School in Richmond, Va., received the student readiness award; Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, Kan., received the College and Career Transition Award; and Eastman of Kingsport, Tenn., received the Workplace Success Award. Student exemplars in every participating state received a scholarship. Greene, earned a $4,000 scholarship, while each of the three semifinalists received a $2,000 scholarship.
“The ACT College & Career Readiness Campaign is a national effort, central to ACT’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success,” ACT CEO Jon Whitmore said in a press release. “The challenges in college and career readiness facing our country are significant, which is why the accomplishments of these exemplars deserve the spotlight as shining examples of what is possible with hard work and dedication.”