| Students at Oakland High School will soon have the option to master skills needed in the home building industry now that three home building groups have agreed to pay for the construction of a new vocational building at the school.
Oakland High School and Rutherford County Schools have entered into an agreement with John Floyd of Ole South Properties Inc., Bob Melton of the Masonry Institute of Tennessee, and the Rutherford County Home Builders Association, who have agreed to donate materials and pay for the construction of the building that will house a new masonry program.
Specifically, the Masonry Institute has agreed to donate brick and block, the homebuilders association will help with construction and Floyd will donate the necessary funds for the project and anything else that is not donated, including a start-up check for $50,000. Floyd has been a driving force behind the partnership, and in addition to his donations, he also has assigned a project manager, Joe Morgan, to oversee the construction.
The school system will only be responsible for hiring the necessary teachers and staff to lead the program.
"We know that the solution to the drop-out problem is vocational education," Oakland High School Principal William "Butch" Vaughn said. "We hope the creation of this building will be the first step in a larger vocational program in Rutherford County."
Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, high schools across the country are held to strict graduation rates. Part of the problem, Vaughn said, is that not all students are interested in going to college. By creating a building trades program, students learn skills that prepare them for a career that can be very lucrative, especially with the ever-growing home market in Rutherford County and Middle Tennessee.
"This program is just an example of what can happen when the community becomes involved in schools. It's a win-win situation," Vaughn said.
Members of the home building industry say there is a definite need for skilled workers in the local market. Several builders have expressed their support of the Oakland program and are looking forward to having well-trained graduates ready to enter the industry, said Bob Melton of the Masonry Institute.
"We see a real benefit, and we look forward to partnering with the school system on this program," Melton said.
The masonry building is only one of several buildings planned for the building trades program at Oakland. The long range plan is to create a system of five buildings that will each focus on different trades, such as electrical, plumbing, carpentry and other components of home building. As with the first building, funding and materials for these future buildings are expected to be donated by members of the local home building industry.
Vaughn became principal of Oakland at the beginning of this school year. His first order of business was to pursue starting the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at the school, which is meant to engage high achieving students on the university track. Only a handful of schools in Tennessee offer the IB program, thereby giving Oakland graduates an advantage when applying for college. The masonry vocational program, which Vaughn plans to launch next school year, will give other students motivation to graduate, even if they aren't on the university path.
For additional information about the vocational program or any others at Oakland, please contact Principal Butch Vaughn (615) 904-3780 or at email@example.com.