Gainesville MYcroSchool Students Love the Trades!

By Nan Thomas


On Wed, November 29th, eleven Gaineville MYcroSchool High School students accompanied Mentor2Mentor leaders Pastor Gerard Duncan and English Teacher Nan Thomas (along with MYcroschool’s Administrative Assistant Penny Sirmones) to Santa Fe College for a trade tour of the construction and technical programs.

Welcoming Santa Fe Student Ambassador “Leonardo” escorted the group across campus to the 6.1 million dollar Charles R. Perry Construction Institute (Building O) that was built in 2009 with a large donation from the wife of the late philanthropist and builder. State-matching funds were used to complete this massive project. This impressive building features water and energy efficient systems along with on-site renewable energy. It is the first Santa Fe College building to have Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) recognition, a well-recognized industry mark of achievement in sustainability.

Justin MacDougall, Program Coordinator of the Apprenticeship Programs, led students and chaperones on a tour of this state-of-the-art facility where hands-on learning and classroom learning occur during both daytime and evening hours.

Mr. MacDougall spoke at length about the apprenticeship programs (Carpentry, Electrical, and Heating & Air Conditioning) where students receive free tuition because contractors pick up the costs. Santa Fe trade students work fulltime during the day (earning anywhere from $11 to $20 hourly) and attend classes two nights weekly. Upon completion of their apprenticeship, they earn industry certification. They have no school loans to repay. Any student or community member interested in Santa Fe’s apprentice programs should phone Justin MacDougall at #352-395-5251.

Kurt Strauss, Program Coordinator of Building Construction Technology, later spoke with students about the collaboration between Santa Fe and Habitat for Humanity. Touring students were able to watch a group of his students work on a prefabricated home. With the hands-on wooden structure in the backdrop, several MYcroSchool students commented on how interesting and knowledgeable they found Mr. Strauss to be.

Next, students were shown videos of different construction-related careers. These videos grabbed the students’ attention, but who wouldn’t look in awe as a Tower Crane operator worked on a fifteen story building from a glass cab 150 feet above the ground! Student Advisor Tom Mason, whose daughter is a MYcroSchool graduate, spoke with students about what programs are available to them. Programs include HARV, Welding, Automotive Service Technology, and Plumbing. For additional information on certification and degree programs, Mr. Mason can be reached at #352-395-5362.

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