5 Questions with the new Butler Tech leader

The start of classes this month at Butler Tech campuses across the county also marks the beginning of new leadership for Ohio’s largest career school system.

Butler County veteran school administrator Jon Graft now leads Butler Tech – starting Aug. 1 — after taking over for Interim Superintendent Laura Sage.

Graft is a 24-year veteran of public education who has worked as a teacher and administrator in the county since 1993.

Butler Tech serves 27,000 full- and part-time high school and adult students on five campuses and is one of only three, publicly funded career schools in Southwest Ohio.

The Journal-News recently sat down with Graft for 5 Questions:

1. Given your extensive experience as an educator and school administrator in Butler County, how can Butler Tech students and supporters expect that history to play out under your leadership?

“Where I feel my experience will most come into play is in building stronger relationships between our partner schools, business and industry and higher education. For our partner schools, Butler Tech is a conduit for expanding educational opportunities for their students in a more affordable way than they could accomplish on their own. For business and higher education, we need to work together in the spirit of innovation and collaboration to build pathways to success for every student, whether they are heading directly into the workforce with an industry-recognized credential or pursuing post-secondary education.”

2. Describe the top of your “to do” list in your first year as superintendent and please give at least one example of an area of Tech that will be changed because of your priorities?

“At the top of my to-do list for Butler Tech is supporting the establishment of a new workforce services department. Laura Sage, who served as our interim superintendent, was selected as director of this new office. Together, we want to build greater relationships with our local businesses and chambers of commerce to identify internship and job shadowing opportunities for students, as well as job placement opportunities. We want to be a strong partner with the business community so that when they have needs, Butler Tech is their first call as a key partner for solutions.”

3. How would you describe the future role of area businesses and the level of cooperation you anticipate in the near future and long-term?

“We look forward to very healthy, collaborative relationships with local businesses to help us meet the mutual interest of developing the future workforce for our region. Butler Tech is the largest career technical school in Ohio. We need local businesses to engage with us to make sure our programs are preparing our students to be viable candidates for their next career move, whether that is pursuing a college degree after graduation or directly entering the workforce.”

4. What are the keys to Butler Tech’s future growth and what programs may be emphasized more than have been previously?

“Our board has approved a strategic plan that will guide Butler Tech’s future growth. The plan focuses on leading in student performance, financial stability, reaching the most students and outstanding engagement with everyone we serve. Our business community and partner schools have stressed the need for more Project Lead the Way and STEM courses, as well as skilled manufacturing and health care.”

5. How will you know you are doing the job the Butler Tech board hired you for?

“It will show when Butler Tech is meeting or exceeding our mission and vision of transforming lives. Business, our staff and higher education will know it when they see the quality of our graduates. On the whole, career technical education schools nationally still struggle with old perceptions of what a ‘vocational’ school used to be. I will personally feel successful when gifted students and their parents see Butler Tech as their best path to being college and career ready, as well as students who are still exploring the right path for them.”

VIDEO: See Butler Tech's new leader from atop the career school's fire training tower @journal-news.com

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