County BOE approves Work Ethic Diploma program

Published 6:49 pm Thursday, October 20, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  Carter County Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward, far right, speaks to members of the Carter County Board of Education about the Work Ethic Diploma program during the Board's meeting on Thursday.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Carter County Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward, far right, speaks to members of the Carter County Board of Education about the Work Ethic Diploma program during the Board’s meeting on Thursday.

Students in the Carter County school system will soon have the opportunity to pad their resumes with a special program designed to help them develop skills to help them succeed in their careers that are not part of traditional academic programs.
Members of the Carter County Board of Education unanimously approved a request by Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward to launch a new Work Ethic Diploma program which has already seen success in other schools in East Tennessee. Currently, school systems in Hamblen, Hawkins and Claiborne Counties are taking part in the program and have just completed their first year, Ward told Board members.
In the first year, Ward told the Board, Hamblen County saw more than 140 students complete the program, Hawkins County had more than 80 complete the program, and Claiborne County had nearly 70 students finish the program.
“Those are good numbers for those school systems,” Ward said.
One of the concerns expressed by some individuals regarding the program was that it might encourage students who were considering attending college or a trade school to forgo additional education in favor of entering the workforce directly out of high school. Ward said that had been one of his concerns as well but after talking with officials in Hamblen, Hawkins and Claiborne Counties he was very confident in the program.
“The directors I talked to said it never steered a kid away from college,” Ward said, adding he was told many college-bound students completed the program to add that extra layer of skills to their resumes. “I think it’s going to be a great thing for our seniors.”
The work ethic program requires students to meet certain standards in order to complete the program. The students must earn a total of 20 points as well as earning their regular high school diploma in order to attain a Work Ethic Diploma.
Points range from one to six for each standard which includes an attendance standard, absence standard, tardiness standard, discipline standard, overall grade point average standard, drug free standard, Career Technical Education (CTE) coursework standard, CTE completion standard, TN Promise standard, dual enrollment and credit standard, industry awareness and certification standards, enrollment in post-secondary school standard, and career readiness certificate standard.
Danny McClain, who serves as the Secondary Supervisor for the school system, also voiced his support of the program.
“Basically this teaches soft skills like attendance, tardiness and work ethic,” McClain said, adding many local industries have expressed a need for employees with these soft skills.
As part of the program, the school system will partner with local businesses and industries to help tailor the program to meet local employment needs. Students who complete the program will be guaranteed a job interview with one of the participating companies following their completion of the program. That job interview promise will follow them through college or tech school and they can take advantage of it after completing their post-secondary education.
The Work Ethic Diploma program will not cost the school system any money to implement and will be funded through workforce readiness grants.
With Thursday afternoon’s approval, Ward said system supervisors can begin working on getting the program launched.
“There is a lot of work to be done in terms of planning,” Ward said.
Ward said he hopes to have the program ready to present in either March or April to students who are juniors this year so they can begin work on the program during their senior year.

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