Robb Gentry is no stranger to Little Elm residents, a frequent target of praise from students and administrators alike. The welding and architectural teacher has built up a program unique in its versatility and capacity to help students beyond their high school years. With powerful partnerships and innovative teaching methods, Gentry and Little Elm ISD may be harnessing the new alternative in a 2019 education- jobs without a college degree.
In May, Gentry opened up his welding lab for an Industry Open House. In the first of its kind event in the district, Gentry brought in professionals currently operating in the welding field to interact with high school juniors and seniors. It was an event that was hailed as living up to the Destination 2025 district plan, providing alternatives to the strict college only path that is force fed across the country. In Little Elm the district strives to prepare kids for not just for college, but also a career.
On Thursday, the district once again shined a light inside of Gentry’s lab, this time with yet another breakthrough. The company HOLT CAT announced a paid internship program that will be available to Little Elm students. On top of that, the company seemed intrigued by the opportunity to hire students right out of high school full-time stemming from the internships. This latest development is just another concrete example of how Gentry is changing the game.
“I think after hearing what HOLT CAT is willing to provide to our kids, it’s the perfect intersection of what we need for them and what the industry needs to find the right people to become highly skilled and qualified employees,” Gentry said. “I want to say thank you to them for considering our kids as an added benefit to the success of their company.”
The program will be available to students as young as juniors. They would apply to be apart of the initiative at HOLT CAT and then work with the company in the fall. After the fall semester, the students would be able to apply for a paid internship in the spring. Little Elm ISD will be offering credit hours to students who are apart of the program.
“We work with high schools all over Texas,” Director for Interns and Apprenticeships Programs for HOLT CAT Tony Spalding said. “We currently have 78 high school interns and have converted 125 of (high school interns) to full-time employees. In fact, we just celebrated five years with those hired full-time after high school.”
Spalding indicated he is looking for Little Elm seniors to “compete” for full-time positions at the end of their internships. The day, that embodied the innovation the district is known for, is another step on the way to providing a complete and tailored education for every student.