Return to Headlines

Grant money helps McHenry High School grow manufacturing program

For McHenry High School’s manufacturing program, a recent grant not only means improvements for the program, but it also reflects the program’s success in preparing students for the future of manufacturing.

Applying for grants is one of many things manufacturing teacher Gaylord Rodeman is doing to move the program forward. Placing students in work training, offering college credit courses and inviting local businesses to partner with the high school are other ways McHenry High School is helping to fill a nationwide skills gap at U.S. manufacturing companies.

Rodeman said since he established an advisory board of local manufacturing businesses three years ago, his program has doubled in size. And for three years in a row, McHenry High School has earned a grant from the Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois.

On May 28, officials from the association and the school district celebrated the most recent grant -- $30,797 for manufacturing equipment improvements for the high school’s East Campus manufacturing lab.

“The money they give is being directly put into equipment that improves student achievement,” Rodeman said. “We’re going to keep moving forward.”

Just this year, at least four seniors have been hired into apprenticeship programs at local companies, and another four students have secured summer internships, Rodeman said. Also this year, Rodeman added several dual-credit courses in cooperation with McHenry County College, and he’s planning to add more.

Nicole M. Wolter, president and CEO of HM Manufacturing in Wauconda, said she is glad her company is a benefitting from the high school’s program. Her company has one intern from the high school, in addition to a recent hire, and they are looking to add more.

“They come with great skills,” said Wolter, who is also on the high school’s advisory board and a board member for the manufacturing association. “To see the program grow is so fulfilling.”

Manufacturing companies nationwide are looking to high schools to help fill a need for skilled workers. According to a Oct. 24, 2018 article in U.S. News and World Report, 2 million U.S. manufacturing jobs are projected to be left unfilled by 2025.

“I’m very passionate about the next generation and getting manufacturing to what it used to be,” Wolter said.

MCHS Manufacturing program earns grant