Berks Profession and Expertise Middle has a brand new training basis.

Laci Naftzinger was in a darkish place for a very long time.

In early 2019, her father’s storage and workshop burned to the bottom. The blaze turned what Naftzinger referred to as her mechanic dad’s life work into ashes.

The hearth left Naftzinger’s father, Terry, despondent. He ended up taking his personal life in Might 2020.

Laci Naftzinger says her resolution to enroll within the welding program on the Berks Profession and Expertise Middle modified her life. (Courtesy of Joshua Antonacci/BCTC)

Naftzinger was heartbroken.

She stated her father’s suicide led to her scuffling with psychological well being points. It brought about her to lose hope.

“I gave up on every thing,” she stated.

However after a few yr, Naftzinger started attempting to drag herself out of the darkness. Earlier than his loss of life, her father had urged Naftzinger may get pleasure from studying to weld, saying he would train her every thing he knew concerning the topic.

Naftzinger determined to enroll within the welding program at Berks Profession and Expertise Middle. It was a life-changing alternative.

“The day I first walked into this college I knew that is what I wished to do,” she stated. “This college has proven me issues I by no means thought doable.”

Naftzinger, who graduated from Tulpehocken Excessive Faculty final yr, is in her remaining yr of BCTC’s welding program. She’s excited to graduate and pursue a profession within the commerce.

“I’ve a cause to get off the bed now,” she stated. “For the primary time I’m waking up every day with a smile.”

Naftzinger stated BCTC supplied her with the construction, training and help she wanted to seek out her goal in life. And faculty officers are persevering with to try to try this for the remainder of their college students.

Now, they’ve a brand new instrument to make use of of their quest.

Naftzinger spoke Friday morning throughout a particular presentation on the BCTC West Campus in Bern Township the place the college introduced the formation of the Berks Profession and Expertise Middle Schooling Basis. The muse will increase funds and assets to assist help BCTC college students like Naftzinger.

“Primarily, it can present some distinctive alternatives for our college students and add to what we’re usually capable of present,” stated Dr. Michael Stauffer, BCTC’s government director.

Dr. Micheal Stauffer, Executive Diector of Berks Career and Technology Center, Speaking in Front of the Guests. At the Berks Career Technology Center West Campus During a Breakfast Event to Launch BCTC's Education Foundation on Friday, January 20th, 2023. (Courtesy of Ryan Stuber / BCTC)
Dr. Michael Stauffer, Berks Profession and Expertise Middle government director (Courtesy of Ryan Stuber/BCTC)

The thought to create an academic basis — one thing that almost all college districts within the county have finished — began just a few years in the past. The plan was delayed a bit by the COVID-19 pandemic however has come to fruition.

By means of donations and fundraising efforts, the inspiration will present help for economically challenged college students, provide scholarships, host pupil management conferences and seminars, assist college students purchase gear and instruments they should begin their careers, present grants for educators and in any other case help every thing taking place on the college’s campuses in Bern and Oley townships.

Jason Feiertag, BCTC’s director of finance and one of many leaders of the hassle to create the inspiration, stated BCTC, like most colleges, has needed to work inside the strict confines of tight budgets. The varsity’s $20 million annual price range is funded largely by the 16 native districts that BCTC serves.

“It places numerous further stress on the college districts,” he stated.

The character of profession and technical training, Feiertag stated, makes it significantly costly. There’s all types of expensive instruments and materials which are wanted to correctly educate college students.

And that price is typically handed onto college students, he added. Feiertag stated that, for instance, college students within the cosmetology program have to purchase kits that price $600 to $700.

Cash raised by way of the inspiration will assist cowl a few of these prices, significantly for college kids with monetary want. It is going to additionally assist pay for college kids to participate in competitions throughout the U.S. — final yr college students took half in occasions in Atlanta, San Diego and Nashville — and help numerous particular initiatives.

“All of these issues are costly,” Feiertag stated. “We’d like to have the ability to help our college students in a greater method, differently.”

With a purpose to do this, the inspiration will need assistance from the group. And it’s already obtained some.

Feiertag stated the inspiration has already obtained about $40,000 in donations. A part of that’s by way of the creation of the W. Clarke Hammond Culinary Institute of America Award.

The award is a scholarship program funded by the household of W. Clarke Hammond, a former culinary teacher at BCTC who handed away in November 2021.

The muse has additionally obtained donations from native companies by way of the state’s Earned Earnings Tax Credit score program.

Feiertag stated the inspiration remains to be attempting to get its footing, however will doubtless pursue some fundraising occasions sooner or later. He urged concepts like a meals truck competition or gold match.

However earlier than these sorts of issues occur, the inspiration wants to seek out some management.

In the mean time, its board is made up of the BCTC’s board. Nonetheless, an unbiased board must be created.

Feiertag stated the inspiration is on the lookout for potential members to serve on the seven-member board. He stated he hopes to have it up and working by March.

Anybody all for serving on the board can contact Feiertag at 610-374-4071, extension 2200 or [email protected]

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