Elkhart area schools work with businesses to implement governor's work ethic program

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Tuesday morning, Elkhart area businesses and schools came together in Goshen to figure out how they can improve the link between going to school and working in the real world.

The idea that's been work shopped for a bit is called Work Ethic Certification. It's one of the governor's state programs. It's less about how to do certain jobs, and more about bringing the same work ethic to school that you would for a job.

Many schools already have programs set up to put students in career building environments.

"Project based learning is something that all of Elkhart County has been receiving training on to try to help, again, get students up to that level they need to be." Fairfield High Principal Amy Bertram said.

Just because they become proficient at doing a job, doesn't mean employers have been totally impressed by graduates coming into the workforce.

"We have to get involved in their personal life just to get them to show up," Ancon Construction President John Place said. "Because they can't handle their finances, they have one excuse after another why they're late or they don't show up for a day which really causes problems on our job sites."

Because of those too common issues, it wastes the company's resources as well.

"It's very frustrating because we spend a lot of time and money on things that we would expect they would be prepared for." Place said.

Levon Johnson is a conduit between both the schools and businesses and they've been working to find solutions in any classroom situation.

"History class as an example," Johnson said. "We go through and we talk about the Guilded Age and monopolies and business and that's a great place for it to come in."

They say it's never too early to start building a work ethic.

"We have partnerships right now that are taking place in the elementary school, and even before that, where we're trying to instill in students and embed those concepts." Johnson said.

Even if you're going to college instead of starting work, there's still merit in the certification.

"Work is work," Bertram said. "It's not necessarily in a job. It's anywhere. So your work ethic applies to college and it applies to the business world."

Unfortunately, seniors won't be able to graduate this summer with the certification. This year's juniors will be the first to be able to take home the certificate in Elkhart County Schools, Baugo Community Schools, and Fairfield Community Schools.

They have to have at least 98 percent attendance, no more than 4 tardies, no more than one office referral, six hours of community service, work related experience, staff approval on their PRIDE commitment and a "C" average or higher.

It's not the easiest to get, but businesses in the area will definitely see this as a good recommendation coming out of school.