Posted in News on January 22, 2019

1/22/2019 // ZEELAND, MICH – Rich Currie, Welding Instructor for Allegan County Area Technical and Education Center, received the 2019 Lakeshore Advantage Visionary Award at the Lakeshore Advantage Annual Meeting on Friday, January 18 attended by nearly 400 business and community leaders. As the award recipient, Currie received $500 in cash and his school received $1,000 to continue efforts that connect students to in-demand careers. Fifth Third Bank sponsored the award.
“The persistence, forward thinking and consideration of our community’s talent retention and attraction and business growth needs are a focus for Rich Currie, and his passion to see his students in good jobs is something to be celebrated,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president. “We are fortunate to have the planning, inclusiveness and thoughtful leadership of Rich Currie, and all the Visionary Award finalists, connecting students to high-demand, skilled career opportunities.”
Currie’s recruitment of students into the welding program, and creating connections with local welding and fabrication shop owners to hire these students, were cited as examples of the positive economic impact Currie has had throughout his 30-year career as a welding teacher. 
“Working at Allegan County Area Technical and Education Center has been rewarding, challenging, and a lot of fun,” remarked Rich Currie during his acceptance speech. “I still really enjoy what I do and I’m going to continue teaching for a few more years.”
The Visionary Award recognizes leaders who go above and beyond to spearhead initiatives that involve commitment, creative thinking, collaboration and forming partnerships to create a positive economic impact.
“We at Fifth Third Bank are proud to recognize the hard work and lasting impact that Rich Currie makes by inspiring Allegan County students to align their passions and talents to propel this community to its full potential,” noted Scott Lubbers, Lakeshore Community President, Fifth Third Bank.
The other two K-12 educator finalists for the Visionary Award received cash prizes of $250 each.
  • Vince Heyser, Saugatuck High School/Middle School
    Vince Heyser started at Saugatuck schools teaching furniture building and cabinetry. He has since diversified the program to teach more job skills and reach more career paths. He also connects students to community projects using the skills they are learning, such as public signage, art, philanthropy and more.
  • Dave McCallum, Otsego Middle School
    Dave has transformed his technical education classes to create a series of courses targeting specific high-demand fields. He designed and teaches three different STEM classes which range in topics from Design & Modeling to Civil Engineering.
Lakeshore Advantage investors voted for their top choice among the three finalists previously identified by the Lakeshore Advantage Board of Directors to receive the Visionary Award. The Lakeshore Advantage Annual Meeting is a gathering of Lakeshore Advantage investors and business and community leaders in the West Michigan Lakeshore region.
“Each of these award finalists has helped to positively impact educational and economic change, and will continue to do so for many years to come,” said Owens.