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News 9 Special Assignment: Vocational Schools

Updated: Wednesday, May 7 2014, 06:19 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
BLOOMINGDALE, Ohio -- The Jefferson County Joint Vocational School isn't where you'll find your typical high school students.
Power mechanics, electrical engineering, and culinary arts may not be your typical high school classes, but tailor-made programs like these help students prepare for a smooth transition into the job market.
You'd be surprised at just how many places employ graduates from vocational schools, many of them are in positions you interact with on a regular basis.
For these students, the classroom is a training ground. But tike the sign on the building reads, these aren't your typical high school classrooms.
“I've been cooking my whole life, and I'm going into the Navy to be a chef,” said Alexis Hollen, a culinary arts senior. “I want to go to the White House and be a chef.”
Hollen, like many JVS students, is getting the tools and training she needs to follow her dream.
“You’re doing hands-on stuff,” Hollen said. “You’re not sitting in class the whole time. You're actually doing stuff to help you, and you're doing something that you want to do when you're older and get out of high school, so it makes it fun for you.”
There are 14 programs at the JVS. Students still take traditional classes like Math and English, but as Superintendent Todd Phillipson said, they also spend time in a lab honing the skills of their chosen trades.
“That niche is what really helps students to be successful because when they come here, they really know what they want to do and they buy into all of their school work and not just one part of it,” Phillipson said.
Sparked by an interest to learn, students develop more than just job skills.
“It's not just about the skill they learn,” Phillipson said, “it's also about a work ethic that helps to be developed.”
In each program, there are advisory boards in direct contact with employers, allowing for two-way communication about jobs and the ever-changing industries. They try to keep the curriculum as cutting edge as possible.
“The businesses that stay involved with our program see a seamless transition from our environment to their environment because they've helped us prepare the scenarios that the students will work in, the tasks and the competencies that they need to work on,” Junior Welding Instructor Todd Parker said.
Each program tailors those scenarios to give kids the qualities those employers are looking for.
“In this area in particular, it's communication skills,” JVS Culinary Arts Instructor Angie Allison said. “Kids are so used to texting and being on the computer so much, they (employers) really like that my students have that personal interaction. We do have a restaurant and we do cater events.”
Senior students even have the opportunity to begin working before graduation if they meet specific criteria.
“We have the capability to put a student out on early placement after the first nine weeks if they meet the criteria of attendance and their grade-point average and they have the skills that the employer is looking for,” JVS Electrical Trades Instructor Richard Bell said.
Hollen’s choice of the culinary arts can allow her to follow the example set by some of her family members.
“Ever since I was little, my grandpa and my dad were both in the Navy, and I told my grandpa I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Hollen said. “So that's what I'm doing, and I'm doing something that I love to do.”
Philipson said over the years, the areas where students get jobs fluctuate. These days, they are seeing a lot of welding and power mechanics students go into the oil and gas industry.
Hollen ships out with the Navy to begin path to becoming a chef on July 1.

News 9 Special Assignment: Vocational Schools


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