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by Jim Masters
LANSING, Ill. (September 16, 2021) – For local students thinking of becoming an electrician or a licensed cosmetologist or barber, Thornton Fractional High School District 215 can now fast-forward their careers.
Over the summer, District 215 launched its new Career Development Department with the aim of providing TF South and TF North students with hands-on learning and the opportunity to find employment right out of high school or continue education in their chosen field.
Leading the Career Development Department are John Robinzine, Assistant Superintendent of Career Development, and Ricardo Johnson, Director of Career & Technical Education.
Robinzine wants students to “dream big” with regard to their career aspirations, describing three pillars to career education for District 215 students: identify students’ career dreams, devise an action plan to accommodate those dreams, and provide the resources to achieve their career dream.
“What excites me most,” said Robinzine, “is that we can be creative in developing partnerships with local businesses and with our colleges and universities. For instance, I’m very excited about the fact we are developing more dual credit opportunities through South Suburban College. Recently, we’ve quadrupled our dual credit enrollment at South Suburban.”
Learning is electric
District 215’s new electrical program consists of two courses that teach fundamentals of the trade and move students toward an apprentice program with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Local 134 staff are teaching the courses.
School officials hosted electrical program students along with parents and board of education members at an open house at the TF Center for Academics and Technology on Thursday, September 16, where the two-year electrical program is located.
State Representative William Davis was present at the open house and praised both IBEW 134 and District 215.
“When we are talking to our young people about life after high school, it has to be more than just the traditional pathway. [We have to recognize] that there are young people out there who are truly smart enough to go to anybody’s four-year institution, but it’s just not what they want to do,” he said.
Cosmetology and barbering
Farther north, TF North is the site of the cosmetology and barbering program. TF South students are bused to the school for instruction and hands-on experience.
“We are making sure that we connect as many students as possible to the labor market, ensuring they’re prepared to attain a job in a high-demand, high-skill area,” Robinzine said. “We are always looking to grow our existing programs and establish new programs that align with the labor market.”
In addition, District 215 has enhanced its building construction program by partnering with a church in Lynwood for a remodeling project. Robinzine noted that District 215 is also planning to launch a manufacturing program, possibly in partnership with another school district.
Calling future teachers
District 215’s future teachers initiative will utilize a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to offer two dual credit courses to juniors and senior interested in pursuing a career in education. In partnership with South Suburban College and Governors State University, students will receive dual credit for taking “Foundations of Teaching” and “Educational Methodology” courses.
The grant will also be used to provide off-site practicum experiences, develop a teacher mentorship program, fund “Grow Your Own” grants or scholarships, and support the district’s Future Teachers Club.
Students enrolled in dual credit courses earn college credit at no cost. District 215 recently added a dual credit health course along with several others through South Suburban, including business writing, Microsoft Office technology, engineering, and building construction. A dual credit biology course is also in the works.
“I am so excited that we are able to offer so many amazing new opportunities to District 215 students,” said Dr. Sophia Jones-Redmond, Superintendent of Schools. “Mr. Robinzine and his team are working hard and accomplishing great things to ensure that our students continue to have increased opportunities for career readiness.”
- District 215 breaks ground on new Cosmetology and Barber Studio (April 23, 2021)