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Troops to Teachers helps military personnel pursue second career

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Manufacturing and automotive academies and a CNA camp planned in Yankton this summer

In June, the Regional Technical Education Center in Yankton will offer manufacturing and automotive academies for area students. Also this summer, interested students will have the chance to attend the Yankton County CNA (certified nursing assistant) Institute.

These are several of the opportunities available through the Southeast South Dakota Regional Career and Technical Education Program, one of twelve recipients of a Governor’s Grant for Career and Technical Education. The Governor’s Grants were made available through the South Dakota Future Fund, which was created by Gov. George S. Mickelson to invest in South Dakota’s workforce and build its economy. They were awarded on a one-time basis, so grant projects must be self-sustaining beyond the initial investment.

Yankton High School Principal Dr. Jennifer Johnke says when the mother of one recent graduate heard about the grant, she said, “Oh my gosh, I wish my son were still in high school.”

Students are looking forward to the possibilities and teachers are excited, too. “Our staff is great,” Johnke says. “They understand that CTE is for all students.”

Johnke explains that the Yankton School District already had a strong CTE program and had recently purchased several 3D printers for instruction in computer-aided drafting, but she says, “The grant just expands the opportunities so much further.”

This regional program is a partnership of the following entities:

• Yankton, Avon, Bon Homme, Gayville-Volin and Irene-Wakonda school districts
• The Regional Technical Education Center
• Mitchell Technical Institute
• Black Hills State University
• University of South Dakota
• Avera Sacred Heart Hospital
• Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center
• Yankton Area Progressive Growth, Inc.

Yankton Area Progressive Growth, Inc. helped assess high-need workforce areas in the region and determined that the areas of greatest need are welding, computer-aided drafting and certified nursing assistants. Grant funds will assist with further development of course offerings, including dual credit, in these areas, as well as machining, automotive and health science. Students from each of the partner districts are eligible to participate in courses, academies and other programming.

In addition, a career exploration course worth a half high school credit will be developed for Yankton middle school students.