College isn’t for everybody.
For plenty, high school is the end of the blackboard education. And these days, with the plentiful amount of trade careers out there and the demand for more employees, some jobs that don’t require higher education can provide just as big a paycheck — if not bigger.
Plus, on-the-job education is second to none across the board.
That’s what makes Adam Conley’s story so invigorating.
As a freshman at Broadway High School, he toured Bryan Tool and Machining and thought, “This is cool. I want to work here.”
Fast-forward to 2021 and Conley, now a senior, started working at Bryan Tool on the first day of school. He goes every day from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Conley said he is learning about different tools and machines while working on various projects.
“If I have a question I can ask the person next to me, and they’ll put down their work to help, however long it takes,” Conley said. “Everyone is really friendly and nice.”
His is the first apprenticeship that a Rockingham County student has received outside of Massanutten Technical Center and, while still in high school, Conley appears to have found a job he enjoys that could very well be his future.
The Virginia Department of Education recently approved a policy that allows students who work to receive a high school credit as long as the job pertains to a career they are interested in pursuing and they work there at least 280 hours during the school year. Conley, and 249 other Rockingham County Public School students have taken advantage, according to Eric Baylor, former principal at East Rockingham High School, who now works at Central Office as the work-based learning coordinator over the summer.
“It’s a great example of how students and the schools can partner with local businesses,” Baylor said. “It’s a win for Adam, it’s a win for Bryan Tool and it’s a win for the school division.”
A triple win is good for everyone. And this program, which is helping guide high school students into potential careers that provide stable work, is good for them and our local economy.