Representatives of Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development visited the LaPorte County Career & Technical Education’s Construction Technology program at the A. K. Smith Career Center on Friday, September 10, to recognize it as a State “Earn and Learn” (SEAL) program. SEAL certification is granted to career centers, high schools, and/or employers that have developed comprehensive work-based learning programs with education and industry partners.
The A. K. Smith Construction Technology program was the first in the state of Indiana to integrate a “Career Connections” curriculum developed by the Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Fund, a program of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC). The material, which includes units on carpentry, plumbing, heating, masonry, drywall, roofing, insulation, electricity, interior decorating, and finishing, also covers “soft skills” such as goal-setting and collaboration and is aligned to Indiana’s Career and Technical Education Next Level Programs of Study.
Students completing the two-year program earn 15 college credits from Ivy Tech Community College in the construction technology pathway, along with IKORCC Carpentry Level 1 Apprentice Certification. They are also eligible for automatic entry into the carpentry apprenticeship with advanced standing, which equates to one year of the four-year apprenticeship program.
The partnership that led to the SEAL certification has been facilitated by Tonn and Blank Construction, which provides job shadowing, site tours, and internship opportunities for A. K. Smith Construction students. During the SEAL certification event, three students from the Construction Technology program spoke about their positive experiences and future plans in the industry. They included Delaney Messer (LaPorte High School), Demetrius Edwards ( Michigan City High School), and Reyes Steppe (Westville High School).
“We are so proud that our Construction Technology program has been recognized as a State Earn and Learn program,” said Delincia Smith, Director of LaPorte County Career and Technical Education. “
Thanks to partnerships like this, we are providing our students with an avenue to make connections with employers in a high-wage, high-demand labor market. In return, our partners are developing a pipeline of potential employees that are highly skilled and credentialed right out of high school. This is a win for our students, our local economy, and Northwest Indiana.”
“The IKORCC is proud to be involved in a SEAL Program with AK Smith Career Center, their students, and Tonn & Blank Construction as the Partner Contractor,” said IKORCC Outreach Specialist Chris Charters. “The program will help students develop on-the-job skills, job site safety awareness, and employability skills that will help them to establish a career as an IKORCC member immediately upon graduation from high school.”
Smith noted that community involvement is also a key part of the A. K. Smith program. In recent years, Construction students, under the direction of teacher Dick Bucher, have been involved several local projects including renovations at the “A Hand Up” women’s shelter in Michigan
City; a wetlands boardwalk for the Flora Richardson Foundation; an outdoor classroom shelter at Lake Hills Elementary and a picnic shelter at Fedder’s Alley in Michigan City; renovations at the Westville Fire Department; installation of a furnace and air conditioner at the Michigan City
Chamber of Commerce; and more.
This school year, through a partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, students will be working with mentors on the restoration of cabinetry and other features in the House of Tomorrow in Beverly Shores, which was designated a National Treasure in 2016. The house was designed by Chicago architect George Fred Keck for the 1933 World’s Fair and is being restored by the National Trust for use as a single-family residence.
For more information about the A. K. Smith Construction Technology program, visit
For more information about SEALs, visit the OWBLA website at or email the Indiana Department of Workforce Development Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship at