High school, college, business join forces for Tech Prep success
What do a guy salivating over the latest gory science fiction film, a girl inhaling dust with a construction crew, a girl jumping hurdles to be part of military intelligence and a guy using words like “multi-media adhoc protocol suite” have in common?
Northwest Ohio teenagers;
Representative of the best of the best of Ohio’s 2009 high school graduates;
Pursuing diverse dreams; and
Crediting Ohio Tech Prep for their achievements and jump starts to success.
Tech Prep, in its 15th year in Ohio, is rigorous academic and technical knowledge and skill grounded in business and industry. Educators refer to it as inquiry-based and problem-based learning. Tech Prep has been joined within the last several years by the Project Lead The Way pre-engineering and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives.
The curriculum will become better known and more widely used in the coming years as it serves as the centerpiece of the state’s five-year (FY2009-FY2013) career-technical education (CTE) plan. Tech Prep provides a rigorous, relevant educational pathway connecting seamlessly, through articulated college credits, to postsecondary career opportunities. The vision is for every CTE student to be a Tech Prep student.
“In Ohio, every high school student is offered the best career-technical education the state has to offer,” said Kathy Shibley, director, Office of CTE, Ohio Department of Education. “Additionally, every career-technical student will be offered the maximum opportunity to prepare for high-skill careers and postsecondary study.”
While data for 2009 graduates are not available, Ohio had 13,251 high school Tech Prep graduates in the previous two years. Forty-three colleges, universities, regional campuses; 91 career-technical planning districts; more than 400 secondary school districts and more than 600 business, industry and labor representatives are actively involved in partnerships with 23 Tech Prep consortia statewide.
“Rigor, connections to business/industry and higher education and a wide breath of career choices are three key pieces of Tech Prep,” said Ed Harper, director of the Workforce Development Tech Prep consortium, Fremont. “Our group of Tech Prep graduates this year may be one of the best as far as high school graduates with college credits and offers from prestigious colleges and one of the most diverse as far as what they have chosen to do with their lives.”
Meet Andy Westfall, who is pursuing film production; he’s going to Bowling Green State University. Meet Jessica Heydinger, the Huron County Engineers office crew member who plans to be an engineer after finishing her degree at Trine University, Indiana. Meet Janelle Runion, one of a few women in the U.S. military academy at West Point this summer. And meet Aaron Burrow, a self-professed computer geek accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their friends and fellow Tech Prep classmates are launching careers in biomedicine, teaching, computer-aided design and more.
Ask them what Tech Prep is, and they’ll tell you about the physics, advanced English composition and calculus they used in their real-world projects. Ask them what Tech Prep does for students like them, and they tell you more.
Here are the stories of four recent Tech Prep graduates and the role Tech Prep played in their success.
'...it was okay to take risks'
ANDY WESTFALL – The Future Film Producer
A resident of Berlin Heights, Ohio, Andy Westfall remembers his first film – a birthday party he shot with a cheap camcorder when he was eight years old. It was a “horrible” version of adults and kids singing, eating and “goofing off” around the room. But he was hooked. In the name of a career in film, he became a movie and TV “junkie.” He especially liked horror movies.
Andy wanted to make films for a living, but didn’t think it could happen until his sophomore year at Edison High School. He heard about Tech Prep and a program called Interactive Media Technology at EHOVE Career Center in Milan. In addition to “being treated like an adult,” he liked it that his ideas were accepted.
“It’s more creative to produce something that is totally different from real life,” Andy, 18, said, referring to his taste in movies. “My teachers – both at the career center and at Firelands College (Huron) of Bowling Green – helped me see how I could make a living doing this . . . and that it was okay to take risks.”
- One of the best learning experiences of high school: Creating professional videos
- One of the best learning experiences of college during high school: Marketing a video, including audience demographics and brand recognition
- One of the best connections to business/industry: Producing a social media video and capturing second place in the state Business Professionals of America competition
- The biggest challenge: How to juggle career preparation with activities at school and at home, including music lessons and a job
To view one of Andy’s videos, click here or go to www.youtube.com and search for a two-minute “Swine Flu Parody.”
Fascinated with bridges, roads
JESSICA HEYDINGER – The Future Civil Engineer
A resident of Norwalk, Ohio, Jessica Heydinger first planned to sink her teeth into a career in dentistry. Then, through a Project Lead The Way pre-engineering program, she became fascinated with the science of building bridges, roads and homes. Her Engineering and Industrial Technologies program at EHOVE and experience at the Huron County Engineer’s Office clinched the deal on a career.
“I learned quite a bit working with the crew,” Jessica, 18, said of her internship and then summer job with Huron County. “I learned about irrigation, walls, infrastructure and how it connects to safety and function.”
Jessica will blend her love of the German language with civil engineering and business management at Trine University, Angola, Ind., this fall. Within 10 years, she plans to have a master’s degree and her own engineering firm.
- One of the best learning experiences of high school: Combining business, communication, research and management skills to finalize one project
- One of the best learning experiences of college during high school: Understanding different metals and their properties in manufacturing engineering
- One of the best connections to business/industry: Meeting and working with different types of engineers
- The biggest challenge: Leaving a Catholic high school (St. Paul) and then juggling college and high school classes with work and extracurricular activities
First-generation in college
JANELLE RUNION – The Future Military Intelligence Officer
A resident of Bellevue, Ohio, Janelle Runion has been competitive with guys in school and on the soccer team for much of her life. Going to the United State Military Academy at West Point, which has a 15 percent female enrollment, will be much of the same – only harder, she admitted. Following her completion of the Computer Communications Networking Technology program through Vanguard-Sentinel Career Center (Fremont) and receipt of a diploma from Columbian High School (Tiffin), she begins at West Point this summer. She was nominated to West Point by Congressman Bob Latta.
“When I got the notification, I cried,” said Janelle, 18. Her tears were about the high-level acceptance to West Point as well as the prospect that she would be her family’s first college graduate.
She is “98 percent sure” that she will end up being an intelligence officer, helping to protect the country. She welcomes the opportunity to serve overseas, regardless of the intensity of conflict there.
- One of the best learning experiences of high school: Understanding the inner workings of government through her AP Government class
- One of the best learning experiences of college during high school: Receiving a wide range of information about technology through a Cisco online course
- One of the best connections to business/industry: Creating a medical dosage calculator senior project with the input of three businesses – BitRadius in Fremont, DTS of Tiffin and Rite Aid pharmacy in Clyde
- The biggest challenge: Realizing the value of taking more difficult courses – both at the high school and college levels – and balancing this extra study with sports, clubs and a job
Understands failure and success
AARON BURROW – The Future Computer Engineer
Aaron Burrow is extremely busy in June. While most class of 2009 high school graduates were enjoying a much-deserved respite, he was delivering two valedictorian speeches (Fostoria High School and Fremont Tech Center) and preparing for an intensive, calculus-laced summer program at the school of his dreams – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“Our graduating class has been through a tough time with the economy, the war, social unrest – to name a few,” Aaron, 18, said. “My message in both places was that we need to improve the status of the country however we can. We need to stop the fighting among political parties, preserve what the nation should be, work on health care problems – whatever we can do to make things better.”
With a passion for positive change and for developing new projects, Aaron plans to maximize his impact in the area of computer engineering. From the time he dismantled and reassembled a PlayStation as a child to now, he values the understanding of failures and successes and understands that both are part of the achievement process. He has his sights on a doctoral degree. He is on his way with a four-year, full scholarship to MIT.
- One of the best learning experiences of high school: Working with others who have the same interest, including his team’s senior project involving Multi-media Ad hoc Protocol Suite (MAPS) – a program allowing emergency information to be transmitted wirelessly
- One of the best learning experiences of college during high school: Taking challenging classes, such as calculus I and II
- One of the best connections to business/industry: Developing corporate routers
- The biggest challenge: Finding the right combination of people to work together to make a project as good as it can be
MORE ON OHIO TECH PREP AND THE CAREER-TECH VISION
For more information about Tech Prep programs and successes around the state, go to www.education.ohio.gov and keyword search: Tech Prep, or go to www.techprep.ohio.org. To view the Ohio five-year plan for career-technical education, as aligned with the federal Carl D. Perkins Act, go to www.education.ohio.gov and keyword search: Perkins Act.
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