Students hammer nails and saw wood, but they are not only gaining construction skills. They are also learning about responsibility and self-control.
The students are part of a special class, which began in 2001 and is offered by OTC’s Community Enrichment Center and the Missouri Division of Youth Services, which enables troubled youth to earn high-school credit and learn about a career in construction.
This semester, about a dozen students from southwest Missouri were sent to the program through the state’s judicial system and have been working on a house owned by the city of Springfield near the corner of Grant Avenue and Mount Vernon Street.
The project calls for students to install a new railing system for the front porch, a system the students designed and produced in the classroom at OTC.
Gary Breedlove, vocational counselor for the region’s youth services division, said the program has been involved in a number of projects for Ozark Greenways, the cities of Battlefield and Ozark and the Springfield Parks and Recreation Department.
“These are ground-up projects in that the students design the project, work out the material costs and install the project. They get to learn as much as they can about construction in the 65 hours of class time that they have,” Breedlove said.
The material for the projects is funded by whoever needs the work done. The state pays the students’ tuition to OTC. Students who complete the work receive a certificate for 65 hours in the construction field.
“The kids can show that certificate to a prospective employer. It’s a win-win situation,” Breedlove said.
Students, who are not completely identified or shown in photographs because they are juveniles, say they have gotten a lot out of the program.
“It’s helped me with my anger issues and calmed me down. Anger used to be a real bad issue for me,” said Sam R.
Delwyn S. said the program has made him more aware of how to act.
“It’s helped me understand and be aware of my surroundings. I know if I put my mind to something I can do it. I have a better relationship with my parents,” he said.
Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technical Community College.
College Director of Communications
Coordinator of Media Relations
Phone: (417) 447-2666