Perseverance pays off
Last week was School Perseverance Week so I headed off to a school where, given its lengthy and intensive courses, I would easily find some persevering students: the Lennoxville Vocational Training Centre. I spoke with three of the school’s stu-
dents, Karolynn Csiszer, from Sherbrooke, Brandon Mackey, from Lennoxville, and Jeremy Simonneau, from Bury, and began by asking them why they enrolled at the Centre.
“At first I began studying Special Care Counseling at Champlain, but it wasn’t the program for me. I had always seen myself working in an office, so I switched to Secretarial Studies here,” said Karolynn. Brandon had thought about going back to school several times during his six year hiatus from ‘the books’ after high school. Then when he broke his leg badly in an accident, he admitted to having time to think and get his priorities straight. “It was very last minute for me. I liked to work with metal, I was good in math, and I knew there was a demand for machinists. Two of my relatives went through the Machining Technics course and got jobs with good wages and good conditions. So I signed up just one day before the course started,” Brandon explained.
“I had lots of hobbies with welding but I started working at a woodshop in Cookshire after high school, then I got laid off when the company moved. I realized I didn’t like that kind of shop work anyway, and that I should go into something that I liked,” said Jeremy whose welding hobby included building demolition cars with his brothers.
As previously mentioned, vocational courses are typically lengthy and intensive, lasting fourteen months with only two weeks off in the summer; they come with their challenges. “Getting used to the school routine of getting up early every morning was hard at first,” admitted Karolynn. “We get a lot of our homework done in class so I don’t have as much homework as I used to have in college,” she added. “I worked night shift for two years so it was hard to wake up early at first. Another challenge is sometimes the younger kids who goof around; that can be distracting. Here you have to care about the work because there is a lot to take in,” said Jeremy. Asked if the homework in the Welding and Fitting program was challenging, he answered: “We never get asked to do homework and it’s awesome!” Brandon found that his math was a little rusty after five years and he had to relearn a few things. “You need a certain amount of math in machining. We also get some homework to do but I like to do extra homework so I can really learn the field,” he commented enthusiastically.
Despite the challenges, all three students like the way this vocational school operates. “We learn so much more here compared to high school because the classes are smaller. And the teachers are very passionate and they know their stuff. They’re always ready to help,” said Jeremy. “The teachers make you like it here. You don’t want to miss a day because you’ll fall behind and you’ll disappoint them,” he added. “It’s a very welcoming environment here; I haven’t always felt welcome in high school or college. The teachers really care and it’s a lot easier to stay motivated to get your work done,” commented Karolynn. “It’s a family environment and you have lots of one on one time with your teachers. You don’t want to miss school,” said Brandon.
Most schools know the value of special activities and include them in their curriculum, and the Lennoxville Vocational Training Centre is no exception. “The students in welding and machining got to visit the Marmen shop in Trois Rivieres. The machines there were incredible. They make wind turbine blades with welds on them almost two feet wide!” said Jeremy. “We also spend a whole month fixing people’s stuff and we’ll make a demolition derby car, too.” “The Secretarial Studies students will go to a job fair in Sherbrooke to see what types of companies are hiring. We’re also doing some desktop publishing,” said Karolynn. The students in the Machining course are involved in a ‘very’ special activity that Brandon was enthusiastic to talk about. “Students are working voluntarily to build forms for water filters for Haiti. With one form, in one month the Haitians can make three hundred water filters. We’re planning to send twenty of them.”
Besides marketable skills, these students are benefitting in other ways from this educational experience. “I’m so much more calm now. At the shop we were always going so fast, but here we learn to take our time,” said Jeremy. “I learnt to have a lot more confidence; to not second guess myself,” mentioned the Secretarial Studies student. Brandon agreed: “Yeah, I have more confidence. I did a test just this morning and I wasn’t worried. I also have more patience now.”
Confidence now in the future is also part of the picture. “We get our Canadian Welding Bureau cards here and then we’re certified to work all over Canada. That’s a big extra at this school. And with the stages (fieldwork) that we do we can find a job like nothing. There’s so much demand for welders, in this area, too,” explained Jeremy. Machinists and secretarial assistants are also in demand in the area.
“This place is awesome. When I do a good weld, it’s the best feeling in the world,” said Jeremy. “That’s so true. When I made a candle holder I brought it home to show my Mom,” added Brandon.
For more information about the vocational courses being offered at the Lennoxville Vocational Training Centre, call 819 563-5627, or consult their website.