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AGC Missouri Kicks off BuildMO Week with Tech

North Tech hosted a press conference this week for the Associated General Contractors of Missouri (AGCMO) to celebrate BuildMO Week, Oct. 2-6, a weeklong celebration of the construction industry in Missouri.

Leonard Toenjes, CAE, president, AGC of Missouri, spoke about the economic impact of construction on Missouri’s economy and welcomed St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger; Thomas P. Schneider, Mayor, City of Florissant; and Tom Heeger, Co-Chair, St. Louis Construction Cooperative.

Toenjes noted that construction is a major driver of Missouri’s economy, employing more than 118,700 in August (seasonally adjusted) persons throughout the state.

In 2016, U.S. GDP totaled $18.6 trillion; construction contributed $784 billion (4.2 percent). In Missouri, construction contributed $11 billion (3.7 percent) of the state’s GDP of $301 billion. Construction wages and salaries in 2016 totaled $408 billion in the U.S., including $7.0 billion in Missouri. The U.S. had 682,000 construction firms in 2015, of which 92 percent employed fewer than 20 workers. Missouri had 13,000 construction firms in 2015, of which 91 percent were small (fewer than 20 employees.) SOURCE: AGC of America: State of Missouri Economic Report, Sept. 26, 2017

Toenjes also noted that a “perfect storm is forming in our industry.” He said that, due to retirements, demographics and the 2008 downturn in the economy, a shortage of trained construction workers has reached critical levels in Missouri and throughout the country. Results from a recent workforce survey by AGC of America indicate the shortage threatens to hold back the entire U.S. economy.

“Seventy-one percent of Missouri contractors recently surveyed noted they are having difficulty filling some hourly craft positions and 20 percent report they are having difficulty filling some salaried field positions,” noted Toenjes. “Forty-one percent report they are having difficulty filling some office salaried positions.”

“This is why the career and technical education programs provided at North Technical High School and other schools throughout our state are so important,” added Toenjes. “The hiring situation is very favorable right now for students trained in the trades. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, construction and extraction employment is projected to grow 10 percent between 2014 and 2024. And, according to new data released last week by the AGC of America, in 2016, annual pay of all construction workers in the U.S. averaged $58,600, 10 percent more than the average for all private sector employees. Construction workers’ pay in Missouri averaged $56,000, 20 percent more than all private sector employees in the state.

“Construction is an excellent career path for today’s young people,” added Toenjes. “New technologies like Building Information Modeling, drones, innovative building methods and new materials are transforming the way we design and build everything. The sky’s the limit for a young person entering our industry today.”

North and South Technical High Schools recently updated their construction curriculum to ensure that students see many career paths in the industry during their first year. By rotating through immersive, real-world projects in four core areas of carpentry, construction trades, electrical trades, and HVAC, North Technical students choose their second-year curriculum with focus and purpose.  South Tech also offers a Floor Layers Middle Apprenticeship option in the second year.

“The Construction Innovations structure at North and South Tech allows students to maintain interest in the first year of the Construction Trades Programs by exposing them to nine-week bursts of interesting projects and equipment function,” said Dr. David Baker, Assistant Superintendent of College and Career Readiness for Special School District. “These are 16- and 17- year-old young men and women and we must gain their interest in the field before we can prepare them to move forward as part of the construction workforce.  The program is dependent upon the strength of our instructors and their sincere interest in student success and competence in their respective fields is what ensures program success.”

BuildMO Week activities began yesterday with a news conference at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, MO, with officials announcing the establishment of a new AGCMO student chapter at OTC. Additional AGCMO networking and training events also are scheduled throughout the week. Students from North Technical High School’s Culinary Program provided refreshments for the St. Louis kickoff event.

To view the results of AGCMO workforce survey, click here: AGC Workforce Survey (https://www.agc.org/sites/default/files/Files/Communications/2017_Workforce_Survey_Missouri.pdf

To learn more about AGCMO, click here: https://www.agcmo.org/.

Information in this posting provided by the AGC of Missouri.

South Tech Welders Finish Strong with the Help of Local 36

This past June, several South Tech students traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the SkillsUSA National Championships. Among them were Joel Besch, Jared Jacquot, and Jason Neier. With the help of Mark Carron, teacher and employee of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 36, this team of three overcame some significant challenges as they prepared for the Welding Fabrication competition and finished 7th in the nation.

The South Tech Welding lab underwent a complete renovation over the summer but construction of their classroom began in late spring. Although the team had been through regional and state SkillsUSA contests, among several other competitions during the year, practice before nationals was still critical. Our campus didn’t have an appropriate place in which to prepare, so our partners at the Sheet Metals Local 36 graciously offered them the use of their extensive welding lab. By the time our students were ready to travel to Louisville, they also had an additional mentor and coach.

Mark Carron, a highly skilled and revered member of the union, stepped in to assist the team whenever they were at the union campus. Carron has been with the union for several years and also serves as one of their instructors teaching adult classes at night. He had never worked with high school students before and enjoyed inspiring them while sharing his vast knowledge of fabrication and welding. The competition required that students use both of these skills to design and build a combination welding and cutting table. “It was a complex competition”, said Harmon as he described coaching the team to think of fabrication in terms of working backwards from their finished project. Among many specifications, skills and tools required, Carron helped them as they used Auto Cad, learned to monitor cut lists, determined which tools they would use, and practiced efficient time management. Carron said they came up with “a really good design” and picked up fabrication skills very well considering the limited prep time. He felt brought together their ideas, skills, and personalities to create a winning team.

Besch, Jacquot, and Neier spent several evenings at the union prior to the end of the school year. Additionally, daytime sessions from 6am to 12pm were added during the summer weeks leading up to the competition. Carron was with the team for the bulk of these sessions and the Local 36 supplied all of the tools and materials the team needed. Carron’s time commitment was incredibly generous and the students were very grateful.

Senior Joel Besch learned a lot from Carron and felt he was really helpful. “He taught me a lot about torch cutting and had a lot of good ideas,” Besch said. Prepping for the competition required the team to troubleshoot their design as they progressed and Carron’s guidance helped them through brainstorming their developmental design process. Besch said each team member found their niche as they worked through the project. He focused on torch cutting, layout, and prepping proper edges, Jacquout did the bulk of the design and layout work, and Neier concentrated on the welding components. The assistance from Carron and the Local 36 was critical, Besch said, “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

Welding instructor Adam Holt agreed and credited Local 36 for their willingness to help and their ongoing support. The union donates equipment and materials to our programs and members serve on our Welding and HVAC advisory boards who are always available to assist our students and teachers. Holt felt Carron’s guidance helped his team develop their work ethic further as they perfected their teamwork. He noticed improvements in their communications skills as well.

South Tech’s business and industry partners provide our students with much more than a glimpse into the world of work. Through mentorship, internships, shadowing experiences, training and more, our partners help us provide students with the skills sought by employers that enhance their degrees and certifications. To learn more about the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 36, visit their website at http://sheetmetal36.org . Businesses interested in partnering with South Tech can contact our school at 314-989-7400.

South Tech Prepares Students for St. Louis's Fastest Growing Occupations

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) released the 2015-2017 St. Louis Region Fastest Growing Occupations report and South Technical High School prepares students for 17 of the 20 fastest growing occupations in St. Louis.

More than half of the fastest-growing occupations are in the construction industry. South Tech’s Carpentry, Construction Trades, Electrical Trades, and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) prepare students for 12 of the 20 fastest growing occupations in St. Louis. These occupations include Electricians, Sheet Metal Workers, Pipefitters, Construction Equipment Operators, and Cement Masons.

In addition to construction, the fastest growing occupations list includes jobs in health care, education, manufacturing, and information technology. These occupations include Web Developers, Preschool Teachers, and Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators. South Tech’s Health Sciences, Early Childhood Education, Precision Machining, and Web & Computer Programming programs prepare students for these fast growing careers.

The career and technical education programs at South Tech provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to walk into St. Louis’s fastest growing occupations.

The full MERIC report can be found here.

Amanda Ohlau, Lieutenant and President!

South Tech’s Amanda Ohlau, an independent and hard-working Law Enforcement senior, has earned the honor of serving as this year’s Missouri SkillsUSA President. The election required a great deal of study, campaigning, and challenging moments but Ohlau kept plowing through each task with her goals in mind. Although she has known real adversity, she also has the skills and confidence required to conquer it.

Ohlau was born in Russia and spent the first three years of her life in an orphanage. She experienced “lots of trauma” there and said, “I had to raise myself, take care of myself,” in conditions that were often harsh. She credits her family and her experiences in school with teaching her how to trust and embrace depending on others. “I could not have achieved becoming president without the help of my South Tech team,” she said, evidence of how deeply she believes these tenants are the foundation of her success within the SkillsUSA organization.

“Being a state officer is extremely challenging,” says SkillsUSA co-sponsor Sally Difani. While Ohlau credits Difani and her instructor, Sue Gibbons, with encouraging her to aim for the presidential office and supporting her along the way, they both clearly feel she is beyond deserving of the honor. “Not all students are comfortable stepping into such a demanding leadership role, but Amanda was willing and she has thrived.  She has honestly conducted herself capably and professionally in every situation with which she has been presented,” said Difani.

Ohlau has also excelled in her Law Enforcement major at South Tech. The Rockwood Summit senior is her class Lieutenant, the highest rank achievable and awarded to her by a 5-member election board including her principal and an advising police officer.   “It was clear from the first day of school that Amanda was a leader,” said Ohlau’s instructor Sue Gibbons. “Amanda’s willingness to help others, her dedication and commitment to this program and constant effort to challenge herself is almost beyond words.  Amanda is an outstanding leader and teammate to her fellow students,” Gibbons said.

Preparing for the campaign to become president required Ohlau to memorize a significant amount of information about SkillsUSA, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of America’s skilled workforce through a structured program of citizenship, leadership, employability, technical and professional skills training. She wrote and shared several speeches about the “skills gap”, a term used to describe the rapidly diminishing number of workers who are prepared to fill the many jobs being vacated through retirements or generated due to technological advancements. Recent studies about the skills gap indicate more shortages of workers in many careers such as nursing, construction work, oilfield work, automotive technicians, industrial technicians, computer network support specialists, and web developers, resulting in slower growth for American businesses and overall economic growth. Ohlau learned to align solving the skills gap with the critical continuation of Perkins funding for career and technical centers and high schools like South Tech in her presentations.   SkillsUSA partners learning this information with soft skills and leadership training, which Ohlau will gain through attendance at a variety of events throughout the school year. Later this month she will attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute in Washington, D.C., during which she will meet with elected officials to discuss the importance of their support for career and technical training for young people. She is also “looking forward to meeting all of my fellow state officers” and collaborating with them at this event.

Ohlau plans to either join the Marine Corps after graduation as an MP or begin college to study criminal justice and communications. Both will prepare her for attending the police academy when she turns 21 to realize her dream of becoming an officer. “She has an amazing future ahead of her,” Difani said. South Tech is proud to stand behind Ohlau, our second SkillsUSA state president, and looks forward to witnessing her many accomplishments.

South Tech Student to be Honored

When it comes to leadership and individuality, there are few students as forward-thinking as Leila Hodge, who will be honored on April 26, 2017, at the State Capitol for her outstanding accomplishments as the State Female Award Winner of the 2017 Breaking Traditions Award. Only nine secondary and post-secondary students in the entire state will be recognized for their achievements related to nontraditional career paths. Leila will receive scholarship offers from many Missouri colleges, as a result.

Educators and employers known to be outstanding in their fields and contributions toward nontraditional career paths will also receive recognition for their accomplishments during the event. According to MO DESE, “Nontraditional career paths are in occupations or fields of work in which one gender comprises less than 25 percent of the individuals employed in that occupation or field. Since 1994, Missouri Breaking Traditions Awards have honored outstanding students who have chosen specific career and technical education programs based on their interests and have not let their gender influence their career decisions.” (Source: https://dese.mo.gov/communications/news-releases/missouri-honors-2016-breaking-traditions-winners).

It is the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s primary goal for college and career readiness to achieve the Top 10 by 20 Initiative, which has a goal of achieving education performance to rank among the top 10 nationwide by 2020. Congratulations to Leila Hodge and her South Tech teacher, Mrs. Sheree Borcherding, for their accomplishments that will contribute toward this goal.

“It is wonderful to see Missourians who are passionate about pursuing the field of their choice,” said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “These winners set an example for future generations to follow.”

SkillsUSA State Championship Results

On March 31st and April 1st South Tech SkillsUSA students put their CTE skills to the test in the annual Missouri SkillsUSA State Championships held at State Technical College in Linn, MO. With 92 students competing, 42 medals were earned in a wide variety of categories from hands on skills, leadership, and written contests with 8 gold, 25 silver, and 9 bronze. Scholarship money to State Technical College was awarded for all 3 levels of medals. Four students will now go on to the National Championships in Louisville, KY in June. These students are:

  • Jillian Bardenheier – Gold Medal in Cosmetology
  • Kiersten Green – Gold Medal in Customer Service
  • Amber Longwell – Gold Medal in Automotive Refinishing
  • Alex Juelfs – Gold Medal in Welding Sculpture

See below for a list of all medal winners and respective contests.

2016 Missouri SkillsUSA State Championship Medal Winners
Lashaun Hymes Action Skills Silver
Grant Gegel Automated Manufacturing Silver
Justin Gilbert Automated Manufacturing Silver
Ricky Hochecker Automated Manufacturing Silver
Amber Longwell ** Automotive Refinishing Gold
Allison Taylor Basic Health Care Silver
Connor Lange Building Repair Gold
Jacob Lichtenstein Chapter Business Procedure Silver
Kaleb Nixon Chapter Business Procedure Silver
Isaiah Reyland Chapter Business Procedure Silver
Joseph Venable Chapter Business Procedure Silver
Patrick Way Chapter Business Procedure Silver
Antoine Wooldridge Chapter Business Procedure Silver
Innocent Niyibizi Computer Programming Silver
Jillian Bardenheier ** Cosmetology Gold
Alana Beal Career Pathways Silver
Claudia Swyres Career Pathways Silver
Jocelyn Wilson Career Pathways Silver
Employment Application Process Silver
Camille Durr Culinary Arts Technical Information Gold
Kiersten Green ** Customer Service Gold
Adam Nischwitz Electronics Technical Information Silver
James Beiser Electronics Technology Bronze
Sam Whanger Firefighting Bronze
Jesse McClanahan Internetworking Silver
Steven Eddy Mobile Electronics Installation Silver
Matthew Coffman Power Equipment Technical Information Bronze
Patrick Wooten Power Equipment Technical Information Gold
Anthony Truong Related Technical Math Silver
Michael Brown Web Design Bronze
Kenneth Sweet Web Design Bronze
Maxwell Buckel Web Design Silver
Alianna McCormick Web Design Silver
Alec May Welding Bronze
Alexander Clark Welding Fabrication Bronze
Maxx Holtwick Welding Fabrication Bronze
Jared Jacquot Welding Fabrication Bronze
Alexander Juelfs ** Welding Sculpture Gold
Cody Sehie Welding Sculpture Silver
Mavrick Alexander Welding Technical Information Silver
Alan Carlson Welding Technical Information Silver
Erica Mutzbauer Welding Technical Information Gold

** indicates students going on to Nationals in Louisville, KY in June

Culinary Arts Launches New Mentoring Program with the HBA

The Hospitality Business Alliance (HBA) has entered into an exclusive partnership with South Tech’s Culinary Arts Program. The HBA’s mission is to foster a culture of respect and cooperation between hospitality businesses and their supplier partners and South Tech hosts one of only two American Culinary Federation certified high school programs in the St. Louis region (the other is at our partner school North Tech). This cooperative program will enhance our curriculum through one to one mentorship.

The program brings senior level students together with a mentor who will work with them throughout the school year. After initial meetings and interviews in September, students will job shadow with their mentor in October or November, check-in during December for a grade and professionalism review, have an additional job shadowing experience in the spring, then mentors and students will end the year with a luncheon in April. Mentors will dedicate a minimum of 7 hours to their student over the course of the school year and also have the option to provide equipment, in-class trainings, field trips, guest speakers,  or to serve as a judge for the many contests our students compete in each year. Mentors are also welcome to join the Culinary Arts advisory board that meets twice annually to conduct program and curriculum reviews.

Paul Witwer, a 30 plus year veteran of the hospitality industry and employee of Performance Food Group Middendorf, is a co-founder of the HBA. He was exposed to the South Tech’s Culinary Arts program two years ago and was immediately impressed. The level of professionalism, the quality, the standards, and the work ethic of the instructors and the students went well beyond his expectations. “They are awesome, full of energy, and so professional and disciplined,” he said of the students.

Melissa Maness and David Bass, program instructors, developed the mentoring program with Witwer to aid both students and the industry. Due to a need for more highly skilled and talented employees in the industry, Witwer felt that there were multiple companies who would be interested in supporting South Tech’s Culinary Arts program. “I think everybody should participate,” he said.

The program has received an overwhelming amount of support, with 21 mentors from 13 different local and regional companies already committed to serve including: Alex Herman, Anne Horton, Jay Vaughn, Chris Desens, and Rob Lyons of Performance Food Group, Josh Galliano of Companion, Lute Cain of Forest Hills Country Club, Christian Gullet and Robert Opdenbrouw of Lutheran Senior Services, Bob Menedez of Sunset 44, Grant Higgs and Bart Phillips of Missouri Athletic Club, Dan Holtgrave of Old Warson Country Club, Chris Stroup of Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, Brian Menzel of Glen Echo Country Club, Josh Schlink of River City Casino, Bobby Tessler of St. Louis Wing Company, Todd Corum of the St. Louis Zoo, William Ortmann and Beau Meadows of Cardinals Nation, and David Laufer of River City Casino.

To learn more about the HBA, visit their website here:  http://hospitalitybusinessalliance.com/.
South Tech’s Ambassadors Recognized by Board

On Tuesday, February 28th, two members of South Tech’s Ambassador Team were recognized for their excellent leadership skills by the SSD Board of Education. Alianna McCormick, a senior from Lafayette High School and Allison Lawton, a senior at Lindbergh High School, were chosen from several applicants to receive this honor.

Allison and Alianna serve as Lead Ambassadors, a select group of students chosen by a panel of judges to represent their major due to their classroom performance, leadership skills, and dedication to volunteerism. Both of these young women excel at South Tech and their home high schools.

Alianna, a Web and Computer Programming major, is involved in several clubs including the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), SkillsUSA, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology Association (NCWIT). She has won honors in programming and computing, and recently competed in exams in business calculus and journalism through FBLA.

As an ambassador, Alianna enjoyed working with our 8th grade visitors each fall and seeing their reactions to what our students do every day at Tech. She credits South Tech with helping her narrow her college major focus and after graduation plans to pursue a computer science degree. “This school has given me guidance that I know not all colleges can provide,” she said. She also feels her experience here has helped her get “ahead of the curve”.

Allison, a Cosmetology major, dedicates most of her extracurricular time to children. She is a camp counselor, she teaches and participates in dance, and has completed 50 hours of tutoring through Lindbergh’s Early Childhood Education department. She has remained in Renaissance, an honor given to high-achieving students with excellent GPAs, attendance, and conduct, every semester she has been in high school. She is also a Presidential Award recipient.

“Being an ambassador was a very special part of my South Tech experience,” Allison said. Her fondest memories include the annual BBQ and getting to know students from so many other majors. She will be attending Fontbonne University and majoring in special education, while utilizing her cosmetology license to work part-time while she is in school.

Congratulations to Allison and Alianna!

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