Recognizing students entering the workforce is a compelling idea, if the online response to Henrico Schools’ first-ever “Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day” is any indication.
A school division Facebook post about the event drew a huge response after it was reposted by actor Mike Rowe, well-known for hosting Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” as well as other projects.
The March 28th signing day celebrated students graduating from Henrico Schools’ Career and Technical Education program. The event emulated ceremonies that have become common for high school athletes signing letters-of-intent to play for NCAA programs. Students and representatives of their future employers signed symbolic letters of agreement, as families and members of the media looked on.
As of Monday, the school division’s April 11 description of the event and accompanying photos had been viewed on more than four million screens, been “liked” more than 33,000 times, been shared more than 24,000 times, and had generated more than 3,100 comments.
“This is the way forward,” Rowe wrote on his Facebook page, which has more than 5 million followers. “No attempt to close the skills gap will ever succeed, until or unless we celebrate those who are willing to learn a skill that’s in demand. This is not just a terrific idea, it’s a model for every other technical school in the country. A big thanks and a hearty congratulations to whomever pushed this idea forward. Here’s hoping others will follow Henrico’s lead.”
“Thanks Mike,” responded Beverly Cocke, who represents the Brookland District on the School Board and serves as the School Board’s representative on the HCPS Career and Technical Education Advisory Board. “It was our Director of CTE, the most awesome Mac B[eaton], who came up with the idea!
“As a HCPS School Board member, I can honestly say it was one of the most inspiring events I’ve attended this year. The parents were proud, the students were confident in their futures and the employers were grateful – winners all around. We’re already planning next year’s event. We would love to have you visit anytime and see the great things going on!”
“My compliments to Mac,” said Rowe. “Invite me to the next one. If I can make it, I will.”
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