BELOIT—In March, 2018 Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) graduate Matthew Lindley was promoted to service manager at Integrity Auto Care in Belvidere, Illinois. He credits his quick career progression to a certification in automotive technology obtained in high school and a former auto teacher.

“Mr. John Hayes was a phenomenal teacher. He’s the one who gave me the opportunity to be where I’m at. He not only taught me about vehicles, but went out and talked to employers to get my foot into the door with different shop owners,” Lindley said.

Many BMHS graduates are in the workplace thanks to the professional certificates offered in high school. BMHS 2019 graduates earned 151 industry and state-recognized professional certificates, according to information from the School District of Beloit. The areas in which the district saw the highest number of professional certificates were in early childhood, automotive technician (ASE), entry level welder (AWS) and Microsoft Office.

“By providing these opportunities to earn these credentials and professional certificates, we give students an advantage in their chosen career path whether they decide to immediately pursue post-secondary education or go into the workforce full-time,” said Director of Career and Technical Education Mitch Briesemeister.

Lindley, 20, who now oversees a team of three, said he started working at Integrity as an intern a couple months before he graduated high school. He went from being the person who washes vehicles to being lube technician to doing suspension work and working as a service advisor prior to his recent promotion.

Although young, he said there is mutual respect on his team.

“I try to teach them and have them teach me,” he said.

Lindley attended many classes for his job, including a trip to Baltimore, Maryland to do service manager activities.

He doesn’t have any college debt either.

“I went straight from high school to here and I’m learning from my job,” he said. “I love the environment here, learning about vehicles and being able to talk to customers and give them knowledge about their vehicles.”

Lindley’s goal is to make his shop one of the best in the state and country.

“I want this shop to be known,” he said.

Victoria Carr graduated in 2019 with an early childhood education certificate and is also in the workforce on staff at Kiddie Ranch in Beloit while furthering her education.

“The benefits of graduating with this certification were many, including earning college credit while in high school and without paying college tuition, getting to graduate and begin working in my field of choice, and continuing my education at Blackhawk Technical College. I would highly recommend all high school students explore all certification opportunities,” Carr said.

She plans to get her associate degree at Blackhawk Technical College and transfer to a four-year college to get a degree in education and become a kindergarten or first grade teacher.

“I like being able to be a role model for students who need one and love being with kids,” Carr said.

The high school also offers three career academies for students to choose from: public/protective services, automotive technology, construction, manufacturing, engineering and science (PACMES); business, arts, communication and hospitality (BACH); and health, human services and education services (HHES).

“Beloit Memorial is wall-to-wall College and Career Academy. This means that we focus on career preparation through exploration activities, rigorous dual-credit and advanced placement course offerings, opportunities to earn industry recognized credentials, work-based learning opportunities, and the opportunity to earn associate degrees concurrently with a high school diploma,” Briesemeister said.