The SCILL Center in cooperation with Vincennes University hosted an open house yesterday evening at the Knox Middle School for their welding program. Director Jerry Gurrado was quick to decline any credit for the program; rather, Gurrado said it was an unbelievable cooperative effort that made the welding program a possibility.
Gurrado explained that an overwhelming number of organizations and businesses came together to bring the welding program to life. The Starke County Economic Development Foundation, the welding subcommittee, the superintendents of area schools, the Vocational Co-Op, SCILL board members, the Center for Workforce Innovation – the list goes on and on. Even Vincennes University helped to make the program a success, as the provided not only a day instructor, but also a night instructor and textbooks for the course. The Starke County Commissioners played a role; KVREMC, NIPSCO, and factories like Sabre, Kruze, Galbreath, Braun, and countless others helped shape the welding program.
“Community Foundation thought this program was important enough and could make a big enough impact that it was worth investing some dollars in. That’s pretty amazing,” said Gurrado.
On top of that, Gurrado said one man in particular made the program what it is today: certified welding instructor Andrew Odle. Gurrado described Odle as an amazing instructor with overwhelming qualifications, and he has a way with students that makes them never want to leave the classroom.
“He has the ability and the knowledge to not only impart what he knows, but he gets them to work harder than they really want to. Our vocational kids don’t take breaks. High school kids don’t take breaks. He has to throw them out of here almost every day,” said Gurrado.
The unbelievable teamwork between schools, businesses, and organizations goes to show that amazing things can be achieved through cooperation, and in light of that, Gurrado offered a challenge to the state.
“Here’s my challenge for you to take back to Senator Donnelly, and I mean this with all sincerity. Don’t tell me that people can’t get along. Don’t tell me democrats and republicans don’t work together. Don’t tell me that industry and non-profit and education can’t come together and make something happen. Because right here, in little old Starke County and little old Knox, Indiana, we made it happen. And for that, I am incredibly grateful and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Without this group effort, Gurrado said none of this would have been possible. To show his appreciation and the appreciation of his students, Gurrado presented several attendees with welded plaques at the end of the open house program.