Representatives with Workforce Solutions Texoma delivered $500 in hand tools and equipment to the Sherman High School Advanced Manufacturing program Tuesday morning. The program is one of several recent partnerships between local school districts, workforce officials and area industry to train the region’s next generation of industrial and manufacturing workers.


“On behalf of Workforce Solutions Texoma, we wanted to give you guys some tools that would help you in the classroom because we know you are working with advanced manufacturing students,” WST Executive Director Janie Bates said Tuesday .


The tools, which included a Craftsman toolbox, screwdriver sets and power tools, were delivered by Bates and other workforce representatives to the classroom of Stephen Murray, who teaches the advanced manufacturing classes for Sherman. Murray said he was approached by Bates about grant opportunities, but he thought he would need to share with other schools. He was pleasantly surprised to see the large assortment of tools that were being donated to his students.


“I’ve been wanting a Dremel for a couple years to give you guys a project to work on with nuts bolts and to learn how to do threading,” he said. “Everything is going to come in handy.”


Bates said she asked Murray for a wish list of items he would like to have in the classroom. Bates said WST was able to fulfill all of those requests and added a few additional items as well.


“This is evidence of the kind of community we live in. Workforce Solutions does not need to do this,” Sherman Independent School District Superintendent David Hicks said. “Parent volunteers don’t need to do what they do. Very generous corporations and manufacturers here in town don’t need to do the things that they do, but they chose to.


“They say this is to the schools but really this is for you all. They do this so you have a great experience and are best prepared to do what you want to do when you graduate,” Hicks added.


The Advance Manufacturing program started in recent years as a training tool to help students prepare for locally-available jobs while completing their high school courses. Through these courses, Bates and other economic developers have said they hope to give graduates a head start and advantage when seeking employment.


Currently, Murray said he has about three students enrolled in the program, but expects to see about 10 to 15 enroll this fall. Across all five participating schools, Bates said there are about 83 students participating, but noted that the number can shift.


“You have have 82 or 83 students start out, but not all will complete (the program),” she said. “Some will decide to go in other directions along the way.”


Bates said WST will be giving similar grants and equipment to other schools, including Pottsboro and Denison, in the coming days. Through these donations Bates said she hopes to give students a chance to gather hands-on experience that they can’t get simply from the textbook.


“Having some tools in the classroom gives a better opportunity to have projects that are closer to the actual workplace,” she said.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com or @mhutchinsHD on Twitter.