Carpentry, other trades classes make a comeback in Middle Tennessee high schools

Posted at 6:21 AM, Oct 09, 2019

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — High school typically lays the groundwork for college, but in Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools it's not just about making the grade.

Students in five high schools can take electives such as structural systems (construction), cosmetology, plumbing and mechanical engineering.

A few years ago, the school district beefed up it's vocational curriculum. Jason Pennington teaches all three construction courses at Northeast High School.

"There has been this realization that there are a lot of jobs available in construction," Pennington said. "Montgomery County realized we need to equip our kids to be [college and] career ready."

Unlike in traditional carpentry classes, this year juniors and seniors at NEHS are building portable classrooms and sheds. They were tasked with this assignment because the district is growing fast.

"In the residential world, we're in one of the hottest markets because of Fort Campbell...but also in the commercial industry. We're equipping these kids to potentially get these jobs which are just 20-30 minutes away," Pennington said.

Students take an introductory class before getting hands-on.

"We work a little slower and a whole lot safer [than on a jobsite]," Pennington said.

Then, they learn how to build a frame, put up vinyl siding, lay roof, install dry wall and put down carpet.

Students who take the construction electives can take the ten-hour OSHA 10 certification at the end. It covers common safety and health hazards on the job and gives entry level construction workers their OSHA 10-Hour Card.

In the spring, NEHS participated in the 11th annual Northern Mid-TN Construction Competition. NEHS placed first in the wall layout competition.