By providing their students with safety training, educators gain the satisfaction of knowing they have educated their students academically and improved their students' safety and employability.







Mike Ripperger, Marion Regional Career Center, Indiana


As the CTE Director of Marion Regional Career Center, Mike Ripperger sees the impact career and technical education has on young people. Part of his passion as a CTE Director is finding programs, certifications and credentials that will provide a good living for students once they complete high school or trade school. He says that each of the programs offer dual credits and while preparing for students to continue on to college is an important aspect of the curricula, Ripperger and his colleagues at Marion want their students to also know that there are other acceptable and lucrative pathways outside of a university.

“Career and technical education (CTE) has always been something very appealing to me,” Ripperger said. "A lot of times kids don’t know what they want to do right away and pushing them directly into college may not necessarily the best path for everyone.”

Ripperger believes that CTE plays an important role in increasing his students’ opportunities for jobs in a competitive market but that without safety as a focal point of his programs, they would not be successful.

“Safety has to be our first concern for a couple reasons,” Ripperger said. “We are dealing with young students that need to learn the correct way to perform job duties. Safety is one of those duties we need to teach. Second, if we have too many injuries in the classroom the school could lose funding (lose what? It’s not very clear) or have its insurance rates go up. This is one way a school is similar to the business world.”

As part of his CTE programs’ protocols, no student is allowed to enter a lab or work site without completing safety training.

“Growing up, I worked for a construction company and later on an excavation company. I had a couple of friends get hurt, because we weren’t using the appropriate safety features,” he said. “Looking back, these injuries could have been prevented.”

At the Career Center, there are extensive programs for students to get technical and safety training along with hands-on experience that is a fundamental element of CTE. The culinary program works and runs as a restaurant that is open to public. The restaurant, Giant Bistro, is completely student run from cooking, waiting tables and washing dishes to catering for the local community and school functions. The Visual Arts pathway overlaps with Giant Bistro; their students design and create all of the menus and logos for the restaurant as well as logos and other collateral for the school, including business cards for teachers and staff.

The Constructions Trades program has an on-going partnership with Habitat for Humanity and is heavily involved in the construction of residential properties. Every year, Habitat for Humanity finds a property in the local county and students in the Construction Trades program build the home from start to finish. Ripperger says his constructions students not only gain experience in building a house and that it entails but also take enormous pride in constructing a home that someone is going to be living in.

“Seeing the relationship between every program at Marion, between our community and Career Center…it is very exciting to see these kids succeed,” Ripperger said.

Marion Career Center also sponsors an Early Childhood Development Program – Marion Little Giants Preschool – where students looking to pursue a career in education get training, but also give back to the community.

“We talk about safety of children and themselves and go over topics and training on what might not be safety concern to them as an adult could be concern for those younger kids… We spend an extensive amount of time for each CTE program to make sure that safety is priority number one.

One of the biggest accomplishments Ripperger share is that all three programs that offer an OSHA 10-Hour credential carry a significant number of additional certifications and dual credits. The Construction Trades Academy offers NCCER, OSHA 10-Hour safety training plus 24 dual credits to transfer toward college. The Welding Academy offers AWS, OSHA 10-Hour along with 15 dual credits. The new HVAC Academy offers students the ability to earn NCCER, an OSHA 10-Hour credential and six dual credits.

And this kind of development in training and skills along with credentialing opportunities to succeed in CTE programs is working.

“We have 7 welding students who are currently earning $12 and $14 an hour in our internship program. One of the reasons these 7 students were able to earn the internship with companies is that they had the OSHA credential,” Ripperger said, “One of our past welders went to Hobart to finish his training and then he received a 6 figure job as a pipe welder.”



CareerSafe wants to recognize teachers and CTE directors around the country that are taking strides to educate youth in workplace safety. Each month, CareerSafe will introduce you to an educator that has been implementing CareerSafe courses in his or her classroom. These educators strive to make a difference one student at a time. Nominate a teacher today!

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