When Jim Rummer began his career as Director of Career and Technical Education for Char-Em ISD 15 years ago, there were a handful of vocational education programs spread around the ISD’s 11 public school districts. CTE was just taking off and becoming recognized as a valuable path for some high school students post-graduation.
Rummer has spent the past 15-plus years growing not only CTE programs throughout the ISD, but also the reputation of the skilled trades as high-paying, in-demand, crucial jobs for young adults after they graduate from high school. Today, Char-Em ISD and local school district partners offer 20 different courses running the gamut of skills and subjects, from aviation to woodworking and many innovative options in between.
In recognition of Rummer’s exceptional efforts with career and technical education in Michigan, he was selected as the Michigan Association for Career and Technical Education’s 2023 CTE Administrator of the Year. He was recognized during the Michigan Career Education Conference annual event on Jan. 31, 2023, in Grand Rapids. Along with Rummer’s recognition, Char-Em ISD career tech was also recognized with an Excellence in Practice Award for the newly launched Char-Em Street STEM program.
“Jim Rummer’s name has become synonymous with ‘career tech’ in Northern Michigan, and for good reason. He is committed to providing opportunities for kids to explore career interests and to find their passion, and he’s also committed to making innovative programs happen,” said Scott Koziol, Char-Em ISD Superintendent. “Jim has changed the conversation around the skilled trades in our area to one that showcases the positive possibilities such careers hold for our region’s young adults. This state-level award is much deserved, and his colleagues at Char-Em ISD congratulate Jim on this recognition.”
In nominating Rummer for the top state honor, career tech staff members outlined a number of accomplishments for Char-Em ISD CTE during his tenure, including:
- Starting the “Energy Fundamentals: Lineworker Emphasis” program, housed at Boyne City High School, in 2018. Rummer gathered partners including Great Lakes Energy, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, to make the class a reality.
- Advocating within local communities for support of a career tech millage since 1996. The initial millage approved by voters then was 0.75 mill and it has been approved every four years since, including the most recent in 2022. Also in 2022, Rummer helped advocate for a 0.25-mill increase that won voter approval which will support additional programs, career counseling, and transportation, among other purposes.
- Expansion of CTE programs over the past three years to include one of the state’s first Unmanned Vehicles (drones) courses, plus Public Safety (two programs), Powersports Technology, Audio Engineering and Video Editing, and the Future Educators Academy.
- Launching Char-Em Street STEM, a mobile program reaching all K-8 students in Char-Em ISD (5,600 students). Street STEM provides students with activities where they develop, learn, and explore new STEM-related skills, including the basics of coding, robotics, critical thinking, problem solving, circuits, measuring, and much more. The program allows teachers to learn alongside their students and explore new ways to incorporate hands-on, interactive STEM learning in classrooms.
- Expansion of Char-Em’s long-standing partnership with Michigan Works’ Networks Northwest services, bringing Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates programming to the ISD. Five additional JMG specialists will be hired for the current and coming school years.
- Overseeing the launch of a new career tech-specific website, www.charemisdcareertech.org, to better showcase all career and college readiness opportunities offered through CEISD.
- Developing the interactive, online “Career Staircase” tool that also gives students, families, counselors, and school staff the opportunity to explore career and college readiness K-12.
- Bringing together CEISD, East Jordan Public Schools, East Jordan High School welding instructor Dave Muladore, Northwestern Michigan College, and Michigan Works to start a new Welding Skills Lab for all ages, utilizing the East Jordan High School welding lab after school hours to train adults.
- Development of a new 8-week summer work program for students interested in construction, with partner Birchwood Construction. Students are paid $17 per hour while they learn hands-on skills through real-world work experience.
- Expansion of summer camp opportunities K-12 that expose children to a variety of career paths combined with the fun of exploration.
- Implementing an annual business recognition program for all organizations and businesses in the region that partner with and support CEISD career and technical education, through a variety of ways including financial, with internships or participation in career events, program development, and more.
“Having been involved in career and technical education for 20 years, the MI ACTE Excellence Awards is one of my favorite events,” said Mikki Spagnoli, awards chair for the MACTE. “Our educators, administrators and business partners work tirelessly to provide high quality education and opportunities that are equitable and accessible for students across the state, so honoring them is a great privilege.”
Rummer, who was first notified of the award during a surprise presentation at the Jan. 16, 2023, Char-Em ISD Board of Education meeting, said the award is a reflection of the team at CEISD that is “100 percent committed to doing what is best for kids.”
“Every staff member on this team gives their all every single day for kids. Their enthusiasm, their compassion, their interest in helping students succeed is unmatched, and it is a privilege to work with them every day,” Rummer said. “I’m grateful to receive this award on behalf of our team, and we look forward to developing even more ways to make futures bright for students in Northern Michigan.”