More than 150 graduated from apprenticeships, GED and trade programs on June 5.
It was a nontraditional route, but Kodie Wilson put high school in her rearview mirror on June 5, receiving her GED diploma at the Flagler Technical Institute graduation drive-thru ceremony.
Wilson, who attended Matanzas High School for a time before heart surgery interrupted her education, has been working as a preschool teacher at Palm Coast Community Child Center for the past year.
“I really love the medical field,” she said, adding that she plans to take emergency medical technician classes at Daytona State College.
FTI provides GED instruction but also professional training for high school students and adults transitioning to new careers. There were 153 graduates this year.
School Board member Janet McDonald attended the ceremony and was enthusiastic about FTI’s role in the community.
“It allows folks who’ve had to change the steady trajectory of education for various reasons to get a GED or get a new direction they didn’t know they were drawn to in their high school career,” she said.
FTI offers commercial drivers license courses, as well as heavy machinery operation training. It helps arrange apprenticeships for heating, air conditioning and ventilation careers, as well as electrician training.
Paul Kocsis, apprenticeship facilitator, said many apprentices earn $20 per hour to start.
“We train people in areas that will never be outsourced. You’ll always have to get your hair cut or get your A/C fixed.”
RENEE STAUFFACHER, director of FTI
“It’s a good way to boost your career without getting into debt, because you're working the whole time,” he said. There are about 15 students in electrician apprenticeships, plus a couple in HVAC, he said; he expects a total of 30 in the fall.
McDonald sees FTI as part of the overall approach to helping students explore careers. Flagler Schools also has Classroom to Career programs at all schools, as well as a fire academy for aspiring firefighters.
“FTI provides career-ready certificates so people can go from high school or career changes and be employed and impact the community,” said Bryan Grody, career technical education and adult general education coordinator.
“We train essential workers,” said Renee Stauffacher, director of FTI, adding that she was pleased an in-person ceremony was held in a year when many colleges canceled their graduations due to the pandemic. “We train people in areas that will never be outsourced. You’ll always have to get your hair cut or get your A/C fixed.”