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Carving out a path for students

TCESC opens new facility

LORDSTOWN — Dustin Postlethwait, 17, and Ashton Laughlin, 16, were impressed with the newly christened facility that will house the Trumbull County Educational Service Center’s Educational Extension Pre-Apprenticeship Program.

The two juniors will be learning carpentry during their school days as part of the program’s inaugural class while still attending part time at LaBrae High School.

Postlethwait said he needed something “new,” and the opportunity to take classes at the educational extension presented itself at the right time. He wants to pursue carpentry because jobs are available in the field and the money is good, he said.

“I want to be a part of something better,” Postlethwait said.

The facility at the back of Lordstown Elementary School officially opened Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that invited Trumbull County superintendents and principals, TCESC staff and business partners to get a look at the new space, which features desks in a classroom setup as well as carts stocked with building tools and plenty of open space for building.

“We’re really excited to be able to equip our students with the employability skills and math skills and the project-based skills that they’re going to need to enter the workforce after they graduate,” said James Rook, TCESC curriculum and instruction supervisor.

Rook leads the effort to develop the educational extension — even building some of the facility’s furniture himself.

Rook said the pre-apprenticeship program is entirely grant-funded through the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. It is free and open to all students from public schools in Trumbull County. Students will be transported to the Educational Extension by their home school districts, Rook said.

Some 23 juniors are enrolled in the program, though Rook hopes to sign up a few more ahead of the 2022-23 school year. The program will include juniors and seniors come the 2023-24 school year, he said.

The pre-apprenticeship will count toward a student’s graduation as an approved pathway through the state.

Students who complete the program will attain several industry-recognized certifications and will qualify for the Ohio Carpenter’s Apprenticeship program, which pairs apprentices with employers in the Mahoning Valley and statewide, Rook said.

The program also will expose students to viable employers close to home.

“Our goal is to bring in industry contacts to actually speak with our students to let them know that they are able to carve out a position and career within the skilled trades right here in the Mahoning Valley — specifically Trumbull County — and that they can make a very good, living wage doing that and live a really fulfilling life,” Rook said.

Lordstown Local Schools Superintendent Gregory Bonamase, who also was impressed with the facility, said the district is happy to house the educational extension and that some Lordstown students already are enrolled in the program.

Hubbard schools Superintendent Raymond Solomon said he believes the program will cater to hands-on learners and will bring out hidden talent in students.

“Now that I’ve seen (the facility) completed, I’m hoping that students from Hubbard attend,” Solomon said.

TCESC Superintendent Michael Hanshaw said the TCESC is always looking for different ways to help students in Trumbull County. He said the preapprenticeship program is a “great opportunity” for students to learn in two years many of the skills they will need for an apprenticeship.

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