CADILLAC — Two local educators received state and national recognition for their work with Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates.

LeAnne Bush of the Wexford-Missaukee Career Tech Center and Kim Benz of Cadillac High School and Cadillac Innovation High School were awarded the Jobs for America’s Graduates High Performer and Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates 5 of 5 PLUS awards for their dedication to programming and for meeting or exceeding national standards in five categories measuring student success, including graduation rate and job placements.

Bush said the program puts students in employment situations and follows them for a year after they graduate. The goal is to help make them successful in whatever path they choose, post-secondary education or the job market.

“We help them, so they are not sitting on the couch or in their bedrooms at home,” she said.

Bush said she anticipates the program will continue to grow in Michigan and new regions and new school districts will be added as long as the funding through the state is made available.

The other recipients of both awards included Lisa Baldyga of the Traverse Bay Area Career Tech Center and Mike Vandermus of the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District. The manager of the programs in northwest Lower Michigan also received special recognition. Susan Ward received the first Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Outstanding Manager of the Year award for going above and beyond to help her team with whatever their needs are.

Along with the individual awards, the Northwest Michigan Works! Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program received a national 5 of 5 Award for the sixth year in a row. Recipients of the Jobs for America’s Graduates 5 of 5 award met or surpassed all of the national program’s five rigorous performance metrics dedicated to ensuring young people succeed in education and employment.

The Northwest Michigan Works! Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program served 316 youth during the 2020-2021 school year. Students participating in the program had a 100% high school graduation rate, 89% full-time employment rate and a 91% positive outcome rate which is a combination of employment, enrollment in post-secondary education, or enlistment in the military.

Northwest Michigan Works! coordinates programs at Cadillac’s Mackinaw Trail Middle School, Cadillac High School and Cadillac Innovation High School, CASMAN Academy in Manistee, Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District, the Traverse Bay Area ISD Career Tech Center, the Wexford-Missaukee Career Tech Center and drop out recovery programs in Cadillac, Kalkaska, Manistee and Traverse City.

Staff Writer/Reporter

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