In October 2021, the U.S. Navy recognized Joliet Central High School teachers Milton George and Tim Gyrgiel for “leadership, mentorship and guidance to students” in the area of service opportunities.
Both George and Gyrgiel are teachers in Joliet Central’s career and technical education department. Two former students at Joliet Township High School District 204 nominated George and Gyrgiel for the Navy Impact Influencer Award.
The award praised the teachers’ “unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality education and support, students would be unaware of the Navy’s programs and opportunities.”
George said a representative from Great Lakes Naval Training Center came to Joliet Central with the award.
“That was kind of a big deal,” George said. “He took time out of his day from the base to present that to us.”
George, who teaches mainly automotive classes, said he and Gyrgiel invite guest speakers into their classes so the students can learn about places that need their CTE skills after they graduate. Guest speakers include representatives from the trade schools, fire department and even the military, George said.
“Not all of our kids are going to college. That’s not a fit for everybody,” George said. “But this gives them an idea what to look for … where kids can actually, maybe, go out and get an apprenticeship after high school, get paid training and then go right into the workforce and make really decent money as a career without ever going to college. We’re just trying to show them a lot of different opportunities.”
George said society has a huge need for skilled trade workers, especially electricians and welders. He’s proud of the CTE program at Joliet Central and its “huge enrollment,” he said.
“The biggest misconception people think is that you go to high school and then to college if you want to succeed,“ George said. “But you can do plenty without going to college. There are good jobs that are very secure. The older people are retiring, and not enough younger people are coming into them. These are good jobs; these are good paying jobs. And so we’re just trying to show the kids something they can be very successful at.”