Butler Tech officials share innovations with national career education peers

Butler Tech Superintendent Jon Graft, pictured during an online presentation, participated in a nationally viewed career education seminar Thursday highlighting his career school system's recent record of high-profile innovations in preparing high school teens for careers, college, military service  or going directly into the workface. Butler Tech is one of the largest career school systems in Ohio and has been heralded by state and national politicians for its modernization of career education. (Photo by Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)

Combined ShapeCaption
Butler Tech Superintendent Jon Graft, pictured during an online presentation, participated in a nationally viewed career education seminar Thursday highlighting his career school system's recent record of high-profile innovations in preparing high school teens for careers, college, military service or going directly into the workface. Butler Tech is one of the largest career school systems in Ohio and has been heralded by state and national politicians for its modernization of career education. (Photo by Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)

Career education for American teens needs a “revolution,” and Butler Tech would like to be among the leaders, officials from the career school told a national audience of their peers last week.

As part of National Career Education Month, Butler Tech officials were invited for the first time to present about its schools and programs to the Association for Career & Technical Education via an online event.

The ACTE digital audience included top officials from career education systems from around the country and they got to see a 48-minute “Education Revolution” video done by Butler Tech highlighting some of the high school students and their work in career skills programs from the school system.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, introduced the video, telling the ACTE audience of more than 110 career-education officials about the leadership role Butler Tech, which is one of Ohio’s largest career school districts, is already playing in modernizing options offered to area teens.

“You’re going to be impressed, as I have been” said Portman, who is co-chair of the U.S. Senate’s CTE Committee and has toured Butler Tech’s Bioscience Center in West Chester Twp.

ExploreWhat 100 job offers for 28 recent Butler County high school graduates tells us about the economy

Butler Tech has drawn wide attention in recent years for a series of first-time experiments tried among Ohio’s 88-county career school systems.

These include include its “5th Day Experience” begun last school year in which students can use Friday’s to either continue their studies or visit companies in industries they are interested in or to work at jobs in the private sector.

Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech, told the viewers any “stigma” still connected to career education being a low-skill option for teens who can’t compete in other traditional, college-prep oriented pathways is both outdated and inaccurate.

“It’s amazing after you watch this (video) tour that someone would still have this thought that career tech education is somewhat less than,” said Graft.

“For those who are hearing this message today, the best way to break this stigma that career tech has had over the years is to really begin sharing the message … and I also think the best story tellers are our students.”

“With the results we are seeing with our students and the progress they are obtaining … whether they are going directly into the workforce or the military or heading off into college – or actually obtaining their associate’s (college) degree before they leave (Butler Tech), it’s just a matter of time for them to begin sharing with the community all the great things happening in career education.”

About the Author