HUNTINGTON, Texas (KTRE) - The Texas Workforce Commission has awarded 41 grants totaling more than $8 million to multiple public education entities. The money is for programs that focus on supporting high-demand occupations through the Jobs and Education for Texans grant program. In East Texas, Huntington, Newton and Palestine ISDs have received the grants.
Breanna Cannon and Annabelle Ricks are juniors at Huntington ISD, but they are already looking toward their futures.
“I want to do something with criminal justice,” Ricks said. “And I think this will tie-in to knowing stuff about the body like at a crime scene.”
“I want to be a dental hygienist, but I will probably, more than likely take it all the way to be an orthodontist,” Cannon said.
“We have had in the last couple of years a lot of students take interest in our health, science, and technology department,” said Huntington High School Principal Shane Stover. “So, we’ve really seen an explosion of number really in that program. We thought it would appropriate to go for the grant in that area.
For the district, $176,032 will go to purchase and install equipment to train freshmen to seniors.
“It helps kids not just for the pinnacle of a registered nurse but also in areas such as a LVN, certified clinical nurses assistant, phlebotomy; there’s a wide range of careers that this grant will help our students work toward and cater to exactly what they are interested in,” Stover said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he says students won’t be able to go to places like hospitals or nursing homes for clinicals.
“And this grant is going to be awesome in allowing us to purchase equipment to simulate those programs,” Stover said. “We’re going to be able to do a lot of those things here on campus.”
“Even though we won’t get to actually go to the nursing homes and hospitals, we still get to bring that here and have almost the exact same experience,” Ricks said.
“We still get the hands-on experience that we need to learn and learn new things that we need to take on for our futures so it’s pretty cool,” Cannon said
Huntington Career and Technical Education Teacher Robin Davidson say with the grant they can purchase equipment like a lab manikin named Alex.
“Alex can talk to us,” she said. “He can speak different languages. We can do anything from vital signs, assess different scenarios with him. As well as assessment of lung, heart and bowel sounds. And really open up different skills for students to be able to do in the classroom.”
TWC awarded Newton ISD $282,85 for equipment and training in areas like welding and soldering. Newton ISD Superintendent Michelle Barrow says they’ve seen such a demand, agriculture students can now stay on-campus and earn college credit from the Lamar Institute of Technology.
“Having the new equipment for our students because they are using more modern equipment and will be able to graduate with various certifications,” she said.
Palestine ISD is receiving $196,168 for the same purpose. The district’s Career and College Readiness Director Brian Howie says the timing worked out well for them.
“We’re in the middle of building a new [Career Technical Education] building dedicated to construction and manufacturing, which leads right into courses and certificates that they can gain from [Trinity Valley Community College],” he said. “It just kind of helps bridge that gap between high school and community college for us which is a win-win.”
A victory, students can’t wait to experience.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Ricks said.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Cannon said.