Hands-on learning: Grants benefit North Santiam and Cascade schools

January, 2018 Posted in Community, School

By Mary Owen

North Santiam and Cascade school districts joined 203 middle and high schools in the state in securing a slice of $10.3 million in grant funds to expand career readiness programs.

The Career & Technical Education Revitalization Grant funds serves Oregon communities with hands-on learning programs focused on advanced manufacturing, agricultural science, aviation, robotics, forestry, home construction/renovation, engineering, and biomedical/health sciences. In total, 32 CTE grants will leverage additional funds and resources from 582 local business and community partners, according to the Oregon Department of Education.

North Santiam School District was awarded a $336,286 CTE grant to be rolled out over four years for its Health Pathway program. The district also received a $45,000 summer grant to be used for a summer camp that will allow middle school students to learn about career pathways at Stayton High School.

“And for students to be exposed to related workplace environments,” said Andy Gardner, superintendent of the North Santiam School District. “Currently, the district has construction, fabricating, business, college and criminal justice pathways.

“The larger part of the grant calls for the development of a specific pathway for our students in health care occupations,” he added. “Each year in school, a specific class will be offered that will allow students to experience not just a review of the wide variety of careers, but also gain knowledge in biology, for example, as it relates to our health care system.”

Health care classes now in place include anatomy/physiology and health careers, Gardner said.

“But we have not articulated a complete pathway to the level we will be able to build with the grant,” he added.

“A 12-week introductory course will be taught in each of the three schools that have eighth-grade students – Mari-Linn, Sublimity and Stayton Middle School,” he said. “In the future, we intend to build a more robust education pathway. The home construction program will expand to include more focus on management of construction processes.”

Cascade School District was awarded $45,000 in CTE grant funds to be used for its “Approaching Mach Speed” summer program. The coursework, geared toward transitioning middle school students into high school vocational opportunities, embraces manufacturing, agriculture, construction and health services.

“The idea is we want to get kids trained in the vocational techs,” said Cascade High Principal Matt Thatcher. “Our goal is to get these kids excited about the education and their futures.”

Thatcher said the camp will use teachers and community partners in giving students a hands-on experience that provides them with a connection to reading and writing.

“That’s been lacking in the past,” he said. “Because of our isolated location, we’ve had a hard time connecting to local businesses.”

Thatcher credits teacher Lisa Iverson for serving as community liaison to the business community.

“Lisa’s really changed the game,” Thatcher said. “She has about 10 to 12 businesses signed on.

“Once students get that exposure, we hope they’ll sign up for courses when they get to high school,” he said. “We want kids to get invested, get motivated.”

Thatcher said the grant money will be dispersed over two years, covering equipment, teacher time and other needs.

“These grants will help more students prepare for college and career,” said Colt Gill, acting deputy superintendent of public instruction for ODE. Graduation rates for students in Oregon CTE programs are 15.5 percent higher than the statewide average, ODE reported.

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