TWC awards $325K grant to Elkhart ISD for career training

Elkhart Independent School District celebrated a grant of $325,850 for new career and technical education equipment from the Texas Workforce Commission Thursday. The funds are available through the TWC’s Jobs and Education for Texans Grant Award and will benefit up to 360 students currently enrolled in the district’s agriculture programs.

TWC Commissioner Aaron Demerson and State Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine) attended the event held inside the high school’s new agriculture pavilion. Harris’s children attend school in Elkhart.

Director of Special Programs Tana Herring wrote the successful grant application for metal fabrication equipment, including 12 booths that allow students to practice welding,18 welding machines, a 44-foot paint booth that can apply powder coat paint to large trailers and other equipment, a hydraulic roll bender, a vertical press brake, and a router table that cuts designs in wood. The new machinery is being used alongside the Ag program’s pre-existing equipment.

Superintendent Lamont Smith spoke about the importance of the new CTE equipment and its role in helping students learn skills that prepare them for the workplace.

“We’re giving our children choices, access, and opportunities,” Smith said. “Not only are they going to be prepared to compete locally but they are going to be prepared to compete globally.”

Lead agriculture teacher Jordan McInnis said the new equipment has been purchased and some is already in use in the school’s new CTE building.

The new Ag pavilion is still under construction and students will allow students to raise and tend a variety of livestock, including steer, sheep, goats, chickens and more.

FFA President and Elkhart Hight School senior Landry Langley addressed an audience of roughly 25 adults to speak for students in the school’s Ag program, which includes learning pathways in Ag mechanics, construction, animal science and Ag business. She told the audience the new equipment will add to students’ ability to produce higher quality projects in metal fabrication competitions.

“We are so honored to have been awarded the JET grant,” Langley said. “We would like to thank the JET grant association as well as administrators as well as our administrators and school board members for their support throughout this whole process.”