Posted: Monday, November 3, 2014
School Board members Glenda Morrison-Fair, Joy Grayson, Debi Bush, and Danna Rohleder pose for a picture with female students in the J. Harley Bonds welding program.
If you thought manufacturing skills were just for men, J. Harley Bonds Career Center could teach you a thing or two. With the influx of manufacturing jobs in the Upstate and the growing need for skilled workers in these fields, Bonds Career Center is turning on the girl power. Welding, Mechatronics, and Machine Tool Technology aren’t just for the boys anymore. All of these manufacturing courses, traditionally more popular among male students, are becoming much more about hard work, job skills, and technical training, and a lot less about gender stereotypes.
Superintendent Burke Royster observes a student’s work on a machining lathe at J. Harley Bonds Career Center.
Last week, School Board members had a chance to see this trend firsthand. Board members and Superintendent Burke Royster toured the facilities and visited classrooms to observe students in hands-on learning aimed at preparing them for high-paying, stable positions in our area’s work force. Among those students is a growing number of females who are making a difference for themselves, and for the future of little girls everywhere. Board Member Glenda Morrison-Fair stated, “I almost get emotional, thinking about the opportunities these girls have, and the futures they’re making for themselves.” Greenville County Schools has 319 Industry Certifications earned by students last year. This represents $8.5 million in “Career Ready” earning potential.
Senior welding student Rodian Manjarres said, “It’s not about being a man or a woman. It’s about learning the skills, having a strong work ethic, and knowing how to be a good, dependable employee. That’s what we get here at Bonds.”
Welding instructors Todd Varholy and Eddie Squires said they would put their girls up against anyone. In fact, they’re hoping to soon be able to compete with the first all-female welding team at a SkillsUSA competition. Varholy said, “We’re proud of all of our students, but seeing these girls excel and hold their own in the dirty, sweaty world of welding, gives us a real sense of accomplishment as teachers. These girls can do anything, and we are pleased that the welding program at Bonds is something they’ve chosen to be a part of.”
Machine Tool Technology instructor Roy Morris touts his female students as some of the brightest and best he’s ever seen. “I worked in industry for many years before becoming an instructor at Bonds. Back then it was rare to see a female machinist, but now, look around some of our most reputable companies in the Upstate. The girls are there, earning a great living in jobs that have a real future, and making a real difference in our economy. Bonds is proud that some of those girls started learning those skills right here,” he said.