When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday night, a former Kentucky student will be sitting in the audience. Breckinridge County native Brad Henning will be a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama.
The State of the Union speech will emphasize the importance of training workers with skills that lead directly to good jobs in industries such as advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and information technology. The president is expected to recognize Henning, who as a journeyman machinist.
The 23-year-old’s career started as a student at Breckinridge County High School when a teacher got him interested in taking a machining class at the Breckinridge Area Technology Center. By his senior year, Henning worked as a co-op student with Atlas Manufacturing of Louisville, and by graduation, he was offered a full-time job.
“We’re very proud of Brad and what he has been able to accomplish,” said Tom Thompson, his former teacher and now principal at the Breckinridge Area Technology Center. “But Brad is not alone. We see students in the career and technical education program here and across Kentucky learn and apply advanced academic concepts and then go on to successful careers in business and industry -- in some cases earning as much or more as their college counterparts.”
Career and technical education is key in the state’s push for all students to be college or career-ready by the time they complete high school. In testimony last week before a U.S. Senate committee, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday noted that Kentucky's college and career readiness rate among high school graduates jumped last year from 38 percent to 47 percent.