A few weeks after the school year officially ended, 20 high school teachers gathered at Northeast Technology Center’s Kansas Campus for a unique summer camp geared toward educators.
“We were looking for a fun way to bring local teachers onto our campus and into our classrooms so they could learn more about the training opportunities available at NTC,” said NTC Kansas Student Advisor Kathie Bergmann. “The result of our brainstorming session was an event we decided to call, TECHsperience – a way for educators to experience CareerTech training.”
The day and a half long workshop was designed to give high school educators a hands-on learning experience with their local CareerTech Center. They would get to know NTC’s instructors and learn about not only the training that takes place at NTC, but also the job opportunities available to students once they complete a program.
“High school teachers are some of the most influential people in a student’s life,” Bergmann said. “We wanted these local teachers to have an in-depth knowledge of what we offer at NTC so they can guide students toward the career training we offer.”
TECHsperience began with introductions and an overview of the program before guest speaker, Phil Armstrong, presented on, “Customized Service.” By the afternoon, the guests were in the NTC classrooms learning a variety of new skills.
“Our instructors did a fantastic job of sharing information about what’s taught in each program as well as the job outlook for students who complete our programs,” said NTC Kansas Campus Director Greg Mitchell. “But because we learn by doing at NTC, we weren’t going to let our guests leave without some hands-on activities.”
TECHsperience participants were divided into small groups and led through a variety of activities in four of the NTC Kansas Programs. In Auto Service Technology, guests were taken on a tour of the shop and received insider information on vehicle maintenance from NTC instructor Adam Wolf. In Wade Friesen’s Electrical Technology shop, participants teamed up to complete a wiring project, while instructor Crystal Beyers led guests through the harder-than-it-seems task of applying vinyl as learned in the Business Administration, Multimedia and Graphics classroom.
Not to be outdone, welding instructor Josh Alley helped each of the participants don their personal protective equipment before trying a little welding.
“Welding is harder than it looks!” said Joan Johnson, a teacher from Jay High School. “I now have a better understanding of what the students experience here and what kind of training they receive.”
TECHsperience participants were asked to submit an application for the event as it was limited to only 20 guests. Mylea Ball is a teacher at Oaks, and although she was not selected from the pool of initial applicants, she showed up on the first day hoping to take the place of any no-shows. There was one accepted applicant who did not show up for the event, so an excited Ball was offered the empty seat.
“I enjoyed the whole thing! I was surprised to learn I can wire a light and survive,” said Ball. “I think a wide range of students can be successful at NTC as long as they are willing to learn from the instructor.”
As the program came to a close at the end of the second day, everyone was still smiling – something Bergmann and her colleagues considered a success.
“We didn’t know what to expect with this first event, but it was a huge success,” Bergmann said. “The teachers had fun, they built relationships with our instructors and they left with a better idea of what we do at NTC. Our hope is that they will use this new information to steer students toward a path that includes enrollment at NTC Kansas and training for a highly-skilled career.”
TECHsperience will rotate among NTC’s four campuses on a yearly basis, giving teachers from throughout the district an opportunity to apply for the program.
“Our campus was the first NTC campus to host TECHsperience, and I’m pleased to say we set the bar high,” said Mitchell. “Part of that was because the participants were eager to be here and happy to participate, but the other part is that we have great staff at NTC Kansas. It’s the greatest place to learn and work.”