Dylan Fountain has a clear plan for the next step after graduation from Mary Persons. It doesn’t involve college, but it does include a lot of learning. And instead of figuring out how to pay for his education, Fountain will be bringing home a comfortable paycheck.
On May 6 Fountain signed a commitment to work for Head Heating & Air for the next two years. He is committing to work full time and in return will receive a $2 per hour increase in pay. Greg Head, owner of Head Heating & Air, said Fountain will likely complete his refrigeration certificate with the first year of his employment.
Fountain, the son of Tracy Myers and Randall Fountain, has been working part time for Head Heating & Air for about six months under Mary Persons Work-Based Learning program, a component of the school’s Career,Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE).
“He has been working hard, doing an exceptional job and learning quickly,” said Head.
Head said that upon signing the commitment, Fountain will receive about $1,000 worth of tools that will belong to him after a year on the job. Head, a member of the Monroe County Board of Education, said he wanted to celebrate Fountain’s commitment with a signing similar to an athlete committing to a college because he wants to draw attention to the opportunities available to Mary Persons graduates in technical and agricultural careers. He praised Fountain for choosing a career that can provide a lifetime of stability for him.
“I want graduates to consider trades,” said Head. “There are a lot of career avenues, and schools need to push more of them, present more opportunities to all students. The Work-based Learning program is a huge asset.”
Sandy Colwell directs the CTAE program for Monroe County Schools. She said this year there were about 68 students in the Work-based Learning program. Mary Persons offers about 15 different career pathways for students that consist of a series of classes over their high school career that helps them explore and become knowledgeable of a specific career. Colwell said Monroe County Schools works to adjust the pathways offered to students’ interest and to the workforce needs of the community. Students who complete a pathway receive special cords to wear at graduation and some of them receive certifications in their field. Colwell said 89 percent of CTAE students complete pathways.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Fountain of signing a commitment to Head Heating & Air. “I appreciate Greg. I’ll see where I am in two years. I’m glad to have a good job here; I love Forsyth.”
Head, who is a Mary Persons graduate, said that Fountain will learn heating and air installation and in 3-6 years should be assigned to his own truck. The pay scale varies according to where one works, with metropolitan areas paying higher, but a heating & air technician with 10 years experience earns $40-75,000 per year.
The field includes installation and service technicians and there is also the option of going into diagnostics. Head said many in the heating & air field are reaching retirement age, giving openings to youth interested in entering the field. He said there are always innovations in the field and classes are available multiple times per year to keep up with the latest changes, especially with new electronics.
Head said that school systems as a whole don’t do enough to let students know there are paths to success besides college.
“There are trades that can take you anywhere in the world,” said Head.
Head Heating & Air is at 115 Industrial Park Road, Forsyth. 478-992-0044.