Wentworth Employee Jared Kortman Celebrated by the Char-Em ISD

A new initiative by the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District, known as Career Tech to Careers, is celebrating the decision of high school graduates to enter the work force after earning their diploma—specifically those students whose high school careers included Career and Technical Education classes. 

On Sept. 24, 2020, ISD staff held a Career Tech to Careers signing event with Jared Kortman, a 2020 graduate of Petoskey High school. Kortman, 18, has started a career as a builder with Wentworth Builders, of Harbor Springs. The job involves a number of skills Kortman learned during his CTE classes at Petoskey High School with instructor Larry Liebler, who retired last year after leading the school’s building trades program for decades. Kortman also took drafting, woods and accounting CTE courses.

“I considered going to college and toured Northern Michigan University, but I knew I would be happier going directly into the workforce,” said Kortman, while taking a quick break for a photo opp at the site of an 8,000-square-foot home construction project on Walloon Lake. “I have learned so much here, including teamwork and commitment.”

Kortman began working on June 1, first as an apprentice and now as a craftsman level 2. Wentworth owner Scott Kennard said his company has never hired someone as young as Kortman. However, the young man showed tremendous potential, dedication and education. 

“Jared has become an asset very quickly,” said Kennard. “His skills right out of the gate gave us the confidence to hire him. We really respect the building trades program at Petoskey High School, and Jared is a great example of competent help with an education specific to the construction industry. We would love to be able to hire more like him—these positions are in high-demand in our region.”

On any given day, Kortman can be found putting his skills to work on finishing details, such as trim, paneling and baseboards. He regularly uses a table saw, chop box and nail guns—tools he became comfortable with during high school classes. He credited his instructor, Larry Liebler, for believing in him and setting him on a path for success.

“He’s the one who got me to a place where I could do what I wanted to do,” Kortman said. “He’s a terrific teacher and he led me in this direction.”

Tamara Kolodziej, Petoskey High School counselor, said the school works hard to show students the benefits of career and technical courses that can lead right into fulfilling careers post-high school. For those students who may not be college-bound, these high-paying, in-demand jobs are ready and waiting for students like Kortman to fill.

“He was an exceptional student,” Kolodziej said. “Jared was serious through high school and had the right combination of drive and academic success. It’s exciting to see him jumping right into a reputable company like Wentworth Builders and enjoying the result of his hard work.”

Jim Rummer, Career and Technical Education Director for Char-Em ISD, said the Career Tech to Careers initiative was started to recognize students who followed the roadmap of career tech activities through elementary, middle and high school, which has led them directly into employment in a career. The Mansfield Family Foundation has offered its support to the Career Tech to Careers initiative with a grant that will fund gift cards to students to purchase equipment and/or clothing necessary for their new careers.