(Posted April 17, 2014)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Beginning this fall, Jonathan Alder Junior High students will have the opportunity to get career-tech education from nearby Tolles Career and Technical Center.
The schools are forming a partnership in which Tolles will send two teachers to the junior high to provide instruction on engineering, manufacturing, information technology and career-based intervention. Tolles also will provide industry-standard equipment.
The partnership stems from Gov. John Kasich’s recent education message calling for career-technical instruction to start at younger grade levels. While the start date for the governor’s mandate has since been pushed back, Jonathan Alder and Tolles plan to start right away.
Shortly after Kasich’s plan was unveiled and before the start date was delayed, Jonathan Alder Superintendent Gary Chapman and Tolles Superintendent Kim Wilson began meeting about implementing a partnership.
Currently, Tolles provides career education for junior and senior high school students from Jonathan Alder and surrounding school districts. The proposed program for junior high students is limited to Jonathan Alder at this time.
On April 14, the Jonathan Alder school board approved a draft of the partnership agreement, which also will go by the Tolles school board.
“Not only are we addressing the need of extending these opportunities to junior high students, but we are also honing in on the areas where there is a great need for a skilled workforce,” Wilson stated in a news release distributed at the meeting.
Junior High Principal Chris Piper applauded the addition of the new instruction offerings. “We’ll be able to link learning to the future,” he said. “Our kids don’t know what’s out there in the way of jobs.”
As for the need for a skilled workforce, Chapman pointed to the close proximity of Honda near Marysville and information technology jobs as close as Dublin.
“Partnering with Tolles in providing these classes for our seventh and eighth grade students is a progressive and exciting way of attempting to meet the needs of our students,” Chapman said.
Should the Tolles board decide to make changes to the agreement, the proposal will return to the Jonathan Alder school board for consideration at their May 12 meeting.
Tom Bichsel, who represents Jonathan Alder on the Tolles board, said Tolles is excited about the proposal.
“In my day, career education meant working on cars and in the woodshop,” he said. “As a member of the Tolles board, I can see what they are doing. They’re even Skyping to China.”