HCPS’ “Letter-of-Intent Signing Day” program wins workforce-readiness award from Virginia School Boards Association

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Henrico Schools students don hardhats in April at Junior Achievement Finance Park at Henrico County's Libbie Mill Library

Henrico Schools students don hardhats in April at Junior Achievement Finance Park at Henrico County’s Libbie Mill Library, as representatives of their future employers look on. The students took part in HCPS’ 2019 Career and Technical Education Letter-of-Intent Signing Day.

Henrico, Va. July 24, 2019 – Henrico County Public Schools’ initiative to celebrate students entering the workforce has been recognized with a first-place award from the Virginia School Boards Association. Henrico Schools won first place among large Virginia school divisions in the 2019 Excellence in Workforce Readiness Awards for its Career and Technical Education Letter-of-Intent Signing Day program.
 
The organization recognized the winners at its 2019 conference, held Tuesday in Richmond. 
 
HCPS’ Letter-of-Intent Signing Day mimics ceremonies that honor high school athletes as they gather in gyms to sign letters-of-intent to play for NCAA athletic programs. The Henrico program recognizes students entering the workforce with a similar ceremony before family and members of the media. 
 
“Preparing students for the workforce and making sure they have options for success is at the core of Henrico Schools’ mission,” said Beverly Cocke, the Henrico School Board’s Brookland District representative. “We are honored to be recognized by the Virginia School Boards Association for our efforts to celebrate the hard work of our students as they plan for their futures.”
Beverly Cocke, the Henrico School Board’s Brookland District representative, and Mac Beaton, director of Henrico Schools’ Department of Career and Technical Education, display a plaque honoring the school division's 2019 Excellence in Workforce Readiness Award

Beverly Cocke, the Henrico School Board’s Brookland District representative, and Mac Beaton, director of Henrico Schools’ Department of Career and Technical Education, display a plaque honoring the school division’s 2019 Excellence in Workforce Readiness Award on Tuesday at a Richmond conference of the Virginia School Boards Association. The school division was recognized for a unique recognition program for students entering the workforce.

 
“We’re proud of this award, because we believe so strongly in the signing-day program and in workforce readiness,” said Mac Beaton, director of Henrico Schools’ Department of Career and Technical Education. “Our goal with the Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day was to bring attention to students entering the workforce, to help them and their parents understand the value of this option. We didn’t anticipate how the program would resonate with people across the country and in Canada. It’s now being replicated far and wide and has sparked a movement to celebrate students entering the workforce.”
 
At the signing day ceremony, students and representatives of their future employers both sign letters-of-intent outlining what students must do before and during employment, what the employer will provide in pay and training, and an estimate of the position’s value. Similar to signing day for athletes, students don a hat or other form of promotional clothing representing the company, Henrico County Public Schools and the school division’s Career and Technical Education program.
 
The first event, held in 2018, was featured on CNN Headline News, Fox News and Today.com. A school division Facebook post about the signing day reached more than 4.9 million people, was shared more than 25,000 times and prompted more than 36,000 likes when it was shared by Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” and other projects. The 2019 edition, held in April, was greatly expanded. More than 100 students took part. The event lasted much of the day and was organized into smaller ceremonies, by industry.
 
Mac Beaton, director of Henrico Schools’ Department of Career and Technical Education, and Beverly Cocke, the School Board’s Brookland District representative, display a plaque honoring the school division's 2019 Excellence in Workforce Readiness Award

Mac Beaton, director of Henrico Schools’ Department of Career and Technical Education, and Beverly Cocke, the School Board’s Brookland District representative, display a plaque honoring the school division’s 2019 Excellence in Workforce Readiness Award Tuesday at a Richmond conference. Behind them are Tyrone Foster, Virginia School Boards Association president; John Poggi of Johnson Controls, an award sponsor; Whit Blake of Johnson Controls; Jim Meyer, a member of the Spotsylvania County School Board; and Paul Nichols, superintendent of Mecklenburg County Public Schools.

The Virginia School Boards Association is a nonpartisan organization of Virginia school boards that promotes excellence in public education through advocacy, training and services. To see a list of competition winners, go to vsba.org/images/uploads/news/VSBA_2019WorkforceAwardsRelease.pdf
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