The superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools in southeast Indiana says a program designed to instill soft skills into students from pre-kindergarten through high school is receiving "full buy-in" from the local business community. Andrew Melin tells Inside INdiana Business Television the PRIDE program, launched in 2012, includes rigorous evaluations in 5th, 8th and 12th grades for students working toward a so-called Work Ethic Certificate that demonstrates a high level of achievement in career skills. Over the last two years, 30 percent or fewer have met the strict certification criteria. Melin says he has challenged local businesses to put "skin in the game" and they have responded.

"We have businesses that are making sure that kids with the certificate are guaranteed interviews" He adds "if they're hired... they'll get a higher rate of pay. So, it's just been a full buy-in across the community."

Melin says 400 businesses have partnered on the program, which was crafted with the help of some 90 individual stakeholders from throughout the community. He expects the Work Ethic Certificate program to spread to 110 Indiana high schools next year and he says 25 high schools will launch their own version of the PRIDE program in 2018.

PRIDE stands for:

  • Persistence
  • Respectfulness
  • Initiative
  • Dependability
  • Efficiency

For students to receive a Work Ethic Certificate from the district, they must demonstrate PRIDE skills and:

  • have 90 percent attendance
  • one or less behavioral referral
  • six hours school or community service
  • "C" or better grade point average

Melin says the established a culture among students within the school corporation "that is unmatched."