JACKSON, Tenn. – Savannah Simmons hopes to become a forensic scientist.

To get there, every school day she puts on a pair of safety goggles and works, not in a laboratory but in a manufacturing plant.

And when the 17-year-old high school student arrives at Stanley Black & Decker for her job, she stays for her classes.

She is part of a unique educational initiative known as the Local Options and Opportunities Program, or L.O.O.P.

At Stanley Black & Decker, a select group of teens work four hours a day out on the manufacturing floor stocking the assembly line and sorting tool parts. The other half of the day, they work on algebra, biology and English literature – in a classroom built right inside the manufacturing plant. 

Liberty Technology Magnet High School senior Elijah Dyer, 17, works in the Stanley Black & Decker plant in Jackson, Tenn., on Nov. 21, 2019.  Jackson is home to LOOP, a unique work-based learning program in which high school students report to the factory instead of school.

The program goes beyond traditional internships or job shadow experiences to provide real-world experience in a better-than-minimum-wage job.

With buy-in from the local business community, this unique partnership has not only addressed the area’s critical workforce development issues, but also provided invaluable opportunity for high school students who may not otherwise be given a chance.

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