St. Johns Tech Gives At-Risk Girls & Boys Opportunity to Train for Skilled Manufacturing Positions

They say it takes a village to raise a child. In the case of St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS) this is not a
mere statement; students are living it each day as teachers, school administrators and local industry have joined efforts to give at-risk students a new hope by introducing them to manufacturing careers and engaging them in skilled manufacturing positions. SJTHS is a Title 1 school in St. Augustine, FL. Prior to 2010 the school catered mainly to over age and/or students performing at below grade level, and a large ESE population with many receiving remediation and/or grade recovery.

Today the school has turned around, significantly, thanks in part to the efforts of school administrators and the staff who have played a critical role in transforming the school to a CHOICE program within a period of five years. As part of its transformation, the school currently offers smaller class sizes and intensive math and reading classes which has enabled the school to rehabilitate a cohort of students, bringing them up to speed in terms of their overall academic performance.

Linda Krepp, career specialist at SJTH says a core part of SJTHS’s success lies in the implementation of several successful strategies one of which has been to reach out and connect with students at the elementary school level and build a pipeline of students who can matriculate to high school. Krepp, who has worked closely with school administrators and local industry partners, says another successful component also lies in its strategic community partnership with Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (CIT) in building a manufacturing internship program for junior and senior students at SJTHS. CIT, located in St. Augustine, FL, is a global company that designs, manufactures and markets high-performance wire and cable, including optical fiber. (More info at http://www.carlisleit.com). The CIT internship program is geared to introduce students to various facets of manufacturing technology through hands-on classroom instruction. The program has been critical in preparing graduates for job opportunities at CIT and outside employment as well.

The CIT program is divided into two tiers. Tier I into Tier II is more about orientation where they learn about
different processes of manufacturing, how to be a good employee, get acquainted with Carlisle’s values. They also learn about the different aspects of a business from sales, engineering, quality control in manufacturing, lean manufacturing, and OSHA safety guidelines. Tier III, the paid portion of the internship, is where students are on the manufacturing floor with a Carlisle mentor on a one-to-one basis which in a full year is six, four-week rotations on the manufacturing floor which gives them a more in-depth and hands-on experience about the manufacturing processes.


There are currently 11 students, both juniors and seniors, doing the internship. In 2014, there were 13 students enrolled in the program, and 9 in 2013. Krepp underlines the internship’s role as incentivizing students to attend school, become more engaged and committed, and see first-hand practical applications of what they are learning in real-world settings. It has also served as a vehicle to hone math skills which is a top requirement to qualify for the Carlisle internship program.

The strategy to build a partnership between the high school and local manufacturers has been mutually beneficial for the school and CIT. The internship program was earmarked as a best practice in manufacturing education on a statewide level. The STEM program at SJHS is an excellent program with 40% of students in the academy being female students. “Being a girl should not hinder students from entering the world of manufacturing” says Krepp who uses herself as an example of how women can excel in a particularly male dominated industry/profession.

Besides the CIT internship program, St. Johns Technical High School also offers a myriad of other opportunities. For girls the school offers a “Women in IT” session that is offered by Citigroup to middle and high school students where female students learn about careers in IT, and the need to break the mold about IT being a predominantly male dominated field. The Cold Stone Water Resources Academy is another STEM-focused program at SJTHS that teaches students about environmental science, water treatment, waste water management treatment and distribution. The Academy is yet another example where students can see female engineers at work at the water treatment facility, and offers an opportunity for students to earn the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Water Treatment Plant Operators level C Certification.  “We are getting our first two students ready to take the Class E industry certification exam in 2015-2016” noted Krepp.

At SJHS it is not enough for students to graduate from high school. Gov. Rick Scott recognized the program and one of its graduates (Ashleigh Pasquerello) who was among the first batch of students who graduated from SJTHS and got hired at Carlisle. “It’s a win-win for us, the society, and for manufacturers as they have a ready-to-work pipeline of students” said Krepp. She notes that it is also important for students to acquire skills that are transferable across industries. “We have to build that bridge from high school to the real world and this program has been phenomenal in doing that” Krepp said.

Looking to the future, Krepp hopes to build in-roads between the school and local industry as well as expand partnership with statewide organizations like FLATE to promote manufacturing especially to girls. The school is looking to start a LEGO robotics program in 2016-2017, similar to the one hosted by FLATE for high school students. Krepp is also exploring opportunities to expose students to SolidWORKS and possibly offer a related industry certification as well. Krepp also looks forward to strengthening SJTHS’ partnership with local manufacturers association like FCMA to continue its engagement in Manufacturing Day activities for the current and next academic year. “These kids need us to build a bridge that helps them understand the world at large,” and at the same time “build a pipeline of skilled workers for local industry as well” Krepp said.

For more information on St. Johns Technical High School contact Linda Krepp, Career Specialist at (904) 547-8130. For information on FLATE’s statewide outreach and curriculum for high school students as well as high school robotics camps for 2015 visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org. You can also email Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.