Too often, students are underprepared to step into the entry-level jobs in the career path they wish to pursue. The Mansfield (Texas) Independent School District has an innovative solution to this problem and students everywhere could benefit from its example.
Through its specialized Ben Barber Innovation Academy, more than 11,000 high school students each year have the opportunity to develop skills and earn industry-standard certifications in high-skilled, in-demand career opportunities.
Through its “Build your Future Now!” program, Ben Barber offers 16 programs of study, including agriculture, architecture, construction, business management, education and training, health science, law and public safety, STEM, and more.
Each program of study is a sequence of courses and experiences that equip students with the knowledge, skills, and resilience needed to excel in entry-level positions in their chosen careers. These sequences combine relevant, real-world experiences with hands-on experience, and our classrooms and labs are filled with industry-standard equipment. The equipment our students train on will be the equipment they use after they are hired.
Industry-recognized certifications give students an advantage in the interview process, which is why Ben Barber Innovation Academy offers certifications like NCCER-Construction, Adobe, Microsoft, Patient Care Technician, Phlebotomy, EKG, EMT, Pharmacy Technician, Comp TIA, ASE, and AWS and more, all at no cost to the student.
Imagine this: A student, who wants to become a pharmacist but doesn’t have the money to pay for college enrolls in the Ben Barber Innovation Academy health science program. She learns the terminology, meets and interns with real pharmacists, learns on industry-standard equipment, practices real compounding, completes the program, and graduates high school with a pharmacy tech certificate (at no charge). She helps put herself through college by working at a local pharmacy at a higher wage because of the certificate, and graduates college with little or no debt.
It’s not a dream, it’s reality at the Ben Barber Innovation Academy, and we hope programs in other parts of the country will offer students similar opportunities.