Tammy Smith, Strong High School, Strong, AR
After 31 years in the construction trades, Tammy Smith—a construction technology education instructor at Strong High School located in Strong, Arkansas—entered into the education field with the goal to better prepare students for the construction industry she is so familiar with.
Smith explains that safety is of critical importance to her students, because she has witnessed many horrific accidents in construction that have left people with permanent disabilities or have cost people their lives. “I’ve seen people die or lose arms, legs…I’ve also seen a lot of minor accidents, but [as I tell my students] a lot of it could have been avoided if they had been taught earlier on about safety,” says Smith, “It takes only a minute and it could end your life or someone else’s.”
Due to her experiences, Smith wanted to do all she could for her students to prepare them for the future. “I knew that I wanted to get my students OSHA 10-Hour certified, but didn’t know where to go,” explains Smith. She was referred to CareerSafe by a colleague two years ago which Smith feels has been invaluable for her students.
Part of the appeal of OSHA 10-Hour safety training is that it can set students apart from others in order to be more attractive to employers. Smith explains that she likes how easy it is to use CareerSafe as OSHA safety training in her classroom. Prior to beginning their OSHA training, Smith shows her students OSHA videos about various injuries and deaths that occur at work in order to drive home the importance of why they are taking CareerSafe OSHA 10-Hour safety training. As part of her curriculum, Smith assigns OSHA 10-Hour Construction Industry training the first nine weeks of class for her students as in class assignments and homework. Smith also describes that she motivates her students with a leader board posted at the front of class. While anonymous based on voucher numbers, students are able to know where they stand among their peers individually which makes them more competitive and driven to complete the training.
“I think that CareerSafe has made [my students] realize how much they don’t know about safety,” Smith says, “It’s opened their eyes to the importance of OSHA knowledge and helps them mature and act more professionally.”
Smith is quick to point out how successful OSHA safety training has been for her students over the past two years. Many of her students enter into the workforce right out of high school while many continue onto post-secondary schools. “Many of my students have a guaranteed job right out of high school if they want it,” explains Smith. She says that having an industry recognized credential also gives her students an opportunity to help pay for their college educations or vocational schooling without having enormous student debit.
“CareerSafe got their foot in the door; it really allows them to blossom and get noticed because of a credential.”
Smith says that after speaking to an advisory board made up of local industry leaders, she learned that many companies are waiting for her students to graduate in order to hire them—offering $15 or more an hour for students with an OSHA industry recognized credential. “Another one of my students is working on the pipeline making $38 an hour right out of high school…he got noticed because he had safety training.”
With the dedication and hard work of educators like Tammy Smith, we are able to educate students in high school not only for entry-level jobs, but also do our part to prepare them for the rest of their lives.