June 20, 2022 – Education

ICYMI: Harmel Academy is Filling a Gap in Catholic Postsecondary Education & Teaching the Value of Trade Schools


How can trade schools help students uncover their unique gifts? How can we ensure society honors the value of all work? 

Charles Koch Foundation Executive Director Ryan Stowers explored those questions on EdUp Experience, the leading podcast about postsecondary education in America. “Young people who have the aptitudes to create enormous amounts of value in the skilled trades need to understand that it’s not only a viable opportunity or alternative to consider, it may be the best alternative,” said Stowers.

Stowers was joined by host Arbazz M. Nizami and Harmel Academy President and Co-Founder Brian Black. Harmel Academy is a Catholic residential, two-year trade school in Grand Rapids, Mich. The school also was recently featured in The Epoch Times.

Harmel Academy currently offers two programs, one in manufacturing and one for future electricians. Students take classes in the humanities and participate in campus life opportunities at Kuyper College, which houses the academy. 

While the Catholic church has a long history of teachings on the dignity of human work, Catholic postsecondary education has focused on preparing students for professional trades, Black said, despite the fact that the skilled trades are “an excellent way to form a life.” The country needs skilled trade workers, Black explained, and “there is a dignity” in this work since all of society “rests on the physical interaction of people working together” to build things. 

In addition to its residential program, Harmel Academy offers a Foundations of Skilled Stewardship Program, a one-year program for learners who want to understand the fundamentals of skilled work. 

Harmel Academy celebrated its first graduating class of six students this spring. The school’s leaders are now working to create additional programs in Grand Rapids and around the country for individuals seeking alternative learning pathways.

Listen to the full podcast episode.