PEARL ― The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is celebrating the state’s top-performing craft instructors and school for hard work and dedication to vocational education.

Being honored at the upcoming Merit Awards celebration sponsored by the Mississippi Associated Builders & Contractors are Thomas Thomas, T.J. Buie, and the George County Career and Technical Education Center.

Thomas, a welding teacher at John C. Stennis Vocational Technology Center in the Kemper County School District, is being recognized as Mississippi’s top high school craft instructor of the year for his innovative teaching style. He applies his lessons learned as a professional welder to demonstrate how career and technical training can lead students to stable jobs, competitive pay and benefits, and opportunities for advancement and paths to entrepreneurship

Buie, an electrical project supervisor for Buie Electric, is being honored as Mississippi’s adult craft instructor of the year. As a former student in MCEF’s adult craft training program, he’s now helping prepare the workforce of tomorrow as an electrical instructor with the foundation.

The George County Career and Technical Education Center is being honored as the best in class for its passion to equip students with the skills they need for successful occupations. Center director Jeff Mathis will accept the award.

At the forefront of the center’s mission is a passion to equip its 1,539 students with the skills they need for successful occupations. Contributing to the center’s impressive 98.6% graduation rate are more than 30 seasoned instructors.

"If Mississippi is going to have the skilled workforce that’s needed for tomorrow, we must encourage and train those workers today,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “We congratulate our winners for their commitment to prepare our students for career and technical professions and for ensuring that Mississippi has the resources required to support its growing construction and manufacturing industries."

The mission of the non-profit MCEF is to promote careers, recruit capable individuals and train a quality workforce for the construction industry in Mississippi. MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades.