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Articles: Vocational

Fifteen outdoor field trip days are built into the academic year at Plumas USD school district.

Plumas USD, a rural district tucked away in the rugged terrain of northeastern California, uses its own backyard for its “Outdoor Core” K12 curriculum.

MUCKING STALLS IN THE BIG CITY—Agriculture students at John Browne High School care for livestock, maintain a flock of laying hens, and grow food and ornamental plants when they’re not studying the details of agriculture. (Julie Fritsch)

Schools are increasingly adding agriculture education, or “ag ed”—about 12,000 agriculture educators teach programs in the U.S., says a National Association of Agricultural Educators survey.

In the latest round of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam, given to more than 500,000 15-year-olds in 72 nations, students in the U.S. once again scored in the middle of the pack—and below average in math—raising concerns and sending educators looking for answers.

The maker movement is poised to transform K12 learning. Makerspaces—workshop areas that provide tools and raw materials for students to invent, create, collaborate and learn—reinforce STEM skills and enable more authentic learning. While there are a variety of ways to design and build makerspaces, there are some key strategies administrators can employ to ensure their program is successful.

Ritch Ramey is the RAMTEC coordinator at the Tri-Rivers Career Center.

Local companies told the Tri-Rivers Career Center, a voc-tech high school in Ohio, there weren’t enough skilled workers entering the trades, especially manufacturing. So the career center launched the Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative to help meet skilled labor needs.

Kaya Henderson lead District of Columbia Public Schools for more than five years.

Kaya Henderson will step down in September as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools after serving in the position for more than five years.

She says she will spend time with family before considering other offers in education, published reports state.

The way schools across the country use space has changed. The growing number of administrators now building and renovating education spaces have made student experience a top priority. Educators seek new designs that accommodate collaboration along with 1-to-1 programs and other technology initiatives

Sheila M. Harrity is superintendent-director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District in Massachusetts.

When Sheila M. Harrity became superintendent-director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District—better known as Monty Tech—she hit the ground running, transforming programs and searching out partnerships to ensure her students find good work right out of school or attend college.

Janice M. Tkaczyk is the national director for counselor and academic relations at Universal Technical Institute. She spent 35 years in public education, including 30 as the guidance director at a regional, technical high school.

In today’s education landscape, it’s common for teachers, school counselors and administrators to encourage students to graduate high school and earn a four-year college degree.

For years, we have seen this as the “right” path and perhaps the only path to success. But this one-size-fits-all approach isn’t a viable one. While many graduating seniors are excited to head off to college, many students with great skills and big dreams are struggling to decide on their next step. So, what’s the right path for those students?

  • Manufacturing biodiesel fuel.
  • Building a geodesic-domed greenhouse.
  • Measuring the environmental impact of abandoned industrial canals.

Michael WilliamsA Texas First
Texas Gov. Rick Perry named Michael Williams the state education commissioner. He will build on improvements and ensure children are prepared for college and the workplace. Williams is the first African-American in Texas to hold such a post.

E2 Petition, Anthony Delmedico

There’s a new petition for legislators on the hill and it appeals for entrepreneurial lessons to be taught in the classroom. The E2 Petition, initiated by Anthony Delmedico, an independent entrepreneur, urges community members to encourage legislators and educators to consider a course in business and innovative practices to be taught throughout grades 4-12. While courses on this subject are traditionally found in higher education, Delmedico says students need to be encouraged at an early age.

In the burgeoning suburb of Olathe, Kan.,20 miles south of Kansas City, the state’s second-largest school district is becoming a showcase for career-based, hands-on learning that transcends traditional ideas of career technical education (CTE).

Enrolling in college was not part of the path for graduates of the San Antonio (Texas) Independent School District, where 93 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. Shortly after Superintendent Robert Duron, known for raising achievement in the Socorro ISD in El Paso, arrived in 2006, he began to raise the bar in this 55,000-student, predominantly Hispanic, urban district.

A summer job for a 16-year-old typically involves serving coffee, scooping ice cream, or babysitting the neighborhood children. Some students at Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools, however, spent their summer vacation designing a children's Web site for the city of Miami Beach. An increasing number of students are finding themselves mingling among professionals with internships in local businesses—the culmination of a work-based learning curriculum.

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