- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) - A southern Tennessee school system has been awarded a federal grant of $4.5 million to prepare students for careers after high school, according to media reports.

Arlette Robinson, supervisor of the career and technical department for Bradley County Schools, said that the four-year grant will be used to purchase equipment for programs in advanced manufacturing, information technology and health science careers.

“It’s about connecting our kids today with the workforce and giving them the workforce skills they need,” Arlette Robinson said.

School officials said the funds will make it possible for students to graduate with enough education, experience and skills in those programs to be successful in their selected career paths.

“It will be like night and day,” said machine instructor Shawn Williams of Bradley Central High School. “New equipment will help better prepare students for new industry standards and higher levels of precision.”

In addition to the equipment, Robinson said the funds will provide for career coaches and a workplace learning director. The grant also will allow the district to better coordinate career-driven academic programs.

Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel described the grant process as “very competitive.”

“Bradley County Schools’ staff worked very hard to write this grant in a way that reflects our needs and emphasizes the great partnerships we have in the community,” he said.

There are more than 30 community partnerships represented in the grant, ,” said Patti Hunt, grant coordinator for Bradley County Schools.

“We are very encouraged by the grant announcement,” said Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. “Anything that helps our schools to prepare our students for jobs in the future is good for Bradley County.”