DCHS Awarded $125,000 GIVE Community Grant in Partnership with TCAT McMinnville

December 10, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County High School, through a partnership with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in McMinnville, has been awarded a $125,000 GIVE Community Grant to invest in new carpentry tools and equipment for the building trades class and to offer students in the program technical college credit opportunities through dual enrollment.

GIVE stands for the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education 2.0 and is designed to facilitate the alignment of local workforce and education partners through a $25 million competitive grant process. The main goal of this program is to provide specialized technical education in the fields of Building Construction and Welding Technology to secondary students as a dual enrollment course.

“It’s really a win-win for us,” said Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director at DCHS.” We partnered with TCAT in McMinnville back in August and helped them in writing the grant and we found out last Friday that we had received the grant for $125,000. It will be used to help prepare students for post-secondary education at TCAT McMinnville in carpentry along with buying brand new equipment and supplies for our carpentry shop at DCHS. It’s a real great award for us to be able to do that. Gary Caplinger, our Carpentry Class teacher, and I will be working with TCAT McMinnville over the next year to get our program in line with theirs,” said Leach.

On average, a high school student can earn approximately 224 clock hours per year in a TCAT dual enrollment course. This means that a high school student who enrolls in Building Construction or Welding for both the Junior and Senior years can earn enough technical college credit to also be awarded the first level certificate within their respective program. This gives the high school graduate a tremendous advantage in that he/she can enroll into the full-time TCAT program and graduate in less time; Also, these early postsecondary credential opportunities will provide local employers the chance to hire skilled laborers in their respective fields, thereby easing the growing workforce demand.

Under the grant program, the DCHS will partner with at least two industries or businesses in providing guidance and insight, advice, work-based learning opportunities, and job-placement.

“Locally, we are working with two local industries/businesses with this grant, Curtis Builders Supply and Centro Cabinetry. They are offering us the ability to do some work-based learning with our students. I want to thank them (Curtis Builders Supply and Centro Cabinetry) for their involvement in this program in bringing kids in to where they can actually go out and do internships and participate in work-based programs to learn more about carpentry and what is involved in it,” said Leach.

Caplinger said this grant will be of great help in updating tools and equipment in the carpentry shop.

“Although we have some updated tools this shop needs updating. Some of the tools in here are older than I am and although they are still pretty good the modern equipment is much easier to run,” said Caplinger.

The DCHS building trades program, which for years constructed homes and tiny houses, now primarily builds storage buildings and hunting blinds.

“I appreciate the Governor and his investments in our vocational programs as well as the support we have received from our Director of Schools and the Board of Education in this endeavor,” said Leach.