By Asia Nail
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter
If you’ve been looking for a job lately, you know how competitive the job market it is. What if you do not have the specific skills employers are looking for? What if your new job barely makes ends meet?
What if you are ready for a career change?
When a single mom and educator was unhappy with options for her at-risk community, she started her own school. Learn what she did and how you can partner with her.
Stephanie Boutté, president of Ternion Training and Education Center, is currently enrolling students interested in obtaining marketable skills.
TTEC is a faith-based vocational training center that partners with ministries and business leaders across the nation to help make a bigger difference in urban communities.
When Stephanie Boutté found herself pregnant at 17 she realized fast that there weren’t many resources in her community that catered to determined mothers in her situation.
“Going to college with a baby was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. I grew up in a poverty-strickened town and I knew if I did not get higher education I would never break this cycle of poverty within my own life,” says Boutté.
The Toledo vocational training center prides itself on helping students gain skills without taking on college loans. The main goal is to provide excellent training resulting in gainful employment and self-sufficiency — absolutely debt free. In due course, Boutte expects the school to have about 1,200 to 1,300 students enrolled for programs ranging from computer applications to medical assistant, HVAC and fiber technician.
TTEC is one of only two sites in the area that offers the Pearson testing center and the only center opened on the weekends. Boutté takes particular pride in the fact that such accessibility is available to those in the teaching business.
“Every single person that comes through our doors has a situation that is unique and different. I cater to each student individually to increase their success. Each of our students have a goal and we make it our mission to ensure they reach it without going into debt,” explains
Boutté owned her own vocational training school for over 20 years providing career training and community development programs throughout the Houston, Texas market.
“Coming from a generation of poverty, I knew we were poor. No one else knew we were poor,” she say. “When I got pregnant, I decided to attend vocational training school. At the time the minimum wage was $3.25. After graduation I got a job making $8.25 an hour.”
This educational experience helped Boutté to become self-sufficient in her life at a time when many single mothers would have had to depend on supplemental government assistance.
After earning her bachelor’s of business administration, she worked in the corporate arena. “Working exposed me to different types of people with new ideas and I gained an appreciation for new experience,” she recalls.
Determined to make a difference in underserved areas, and to provide opportunities for exposure to others, she returned to the vocational school arena to acquire employment.
“I wanted to give back to the type of community I, myself came from. Unfortunately, I found most schools no longer catered to women like myself. It had become all about the money. That truly broke my heart,” shares Boutté
Still determined, she found a position at a local vocational school. With her get-it-done attitude and her love for her students, she evolved her position to program coordinator.
With a special emphasis on valuing diversity, she kept students engaged as they learned new methods tailored specifically to each classroom.
“I’ll never forget, my first classroom had 35 Black and Hispanic female students excited to learn. Unfortunately, I was given no books, supplies, or curriculum for the class amongst many other hurdles. Still, I rose to the occasion. After a couple of years, I felt led to start my own school,” shares Boutté.
A local real estate developer in Texas heard about all the great things she was doing in educational training and made a donation. Smiling she recalls:
“He built an entire school and gave it to me, no strings attached. It was a beautiful blessing.”
Not only did this developer pay for the school, he also furnished it, paid for the Internet, telephone, cable, electricity — everything.
As the school progressed and she began working on new programs, she was introduced to Len Hopkins, Founder of Ternion International. Ternion Group International is a Christian Faith based company.
They found common ground on the firm belief that good training mixed with “paying it forward” is the foundation of achieving personal success.
“Paying it forward” is when someone does something for you, but instead of paying that person back directly, you pass it on to another person instead.
“We had a business meeting. Len showed me his vision, and I showed him mine. They were almost identical,” she says.
Ternion reached out to Boutté shortly thereafter, excited to duplicate her program with aspirations to open up 440 locations across the U.S.
“I became the president of TTEC because they were able to help me expand what I’d been doing successfully for the past 22 years on a national level. My dream school expansion has come true,” she adds.
TTEC’s innovative ways of teaching aim to put students into a good mood, so that they are more likely to retain information. She fondly states, “We always make a point of creating personal relationships with our students and their families. What sets our school apart is the love we freely give and our open-door policy.”
After doing research, she found that Ohio had one of the highest unemployment rates for African Americans and disadvantaged communities in the U.S. Excitedly, Boutté explains, “I’d like to incentivize more companies to come to Toledo. We train the workforce. I believe if the State of Ohio petitions more out of state companies considering relocation, job growth could consistently increase. I’ve seen many instances where Texas has petitioned California for their businesses. Tesla considering a headquarters move to Austin is an example.”
TTEC recently received a letter from the LeBron James foundation. “I anticipate us sharing a tenacity for new learning methods,” she shares. “My dream is to also offer programs that teach students to be entrepreneurs capable of creating companies here in Toledo.”
The community is fully embracing TTEC in Toledo. Several churches in the area donate tools and supplies to the school regularly. Ternion continues to develop strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to better prepare students. Bishop Duane Tisdale from Friendship Baptist Church facilitates the school’s innovative life classes.
“When our students obtain employment we strive for them to make substantially more money than they have in the past. With this in mind we also teach life skills. We don’t want to see our graduates prioritizing designer clothing or $200 sneakers over core money management. Instead we want them to be able to understand how stock prices change based on world events like the pandemic. We teach life skills through our curriculum, including money/credit management. We also teach the value of owning property. We do a little bit of everything,” President Boutté proudly explains.
TTEC encourages the hospitals, doctors’ offices, and companies they work with to help make their students great employees by gaining hands on experience through externships and mentoring. She says: “Upon graduation, our experience has consistently been that our partners eagerly want to hire and refer our students.”
TTEC is enrolling now in the following programs:
- Fiber Optics Technician
- Medical Assistant
- Computerized Accounting Specialist
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator
- Computerized Accounting Specialist
- Computerized Office Administration
5212 Hill Ave Toledo, Ohio 43615
General Class Schedule / Calendar
9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday thru Thursday
1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday thru Thursday
6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday thru Thursday