State sen­a­tor vis­its Kent County High School See VISIT Page A7

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­tynews.com

WORTON — State Sen. Jim Ros­apepe toured Kent County High School Dec. 20 to get a closer look the Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams avail­able at the school.

His visit fo­cused on the suc­cess of KCHS in pre­par­ing stu­dents to join the work­force through cer­ti­fi­ca­tions earned in CTE path­ways.

“In all kinds of ways, you guys lead the state,” Ros­apepe, D-21-Prince Ge­orge’s, said of the school’s path­ways.

Ros­apepe along with Kent County Pub­lic Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Couch, Kent County Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Co­or­di­na­tor Jamie Wil­liams and KCHS As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Mark Buckel met with teach­ers and stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in var­i­ous path­ways. He vis­ited culi­nary arts, nurs­ing, broad­cast­ing, con­struc­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy classes.

Later in the tour, KCHS Prin­ci­pal Nick Keck­ley and Dar­rius John­son joined.

Buckel said hav­ing only one high school in the county contributed to the suc­cess of the school’s CTE pro­grams. He said the school’s path­ways also have been seven to 10 years in the mak­ing. He praised pre­vi­ous KCHS prin­ci­pal Tracey Wil­liams, now a cen­tral of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tor for the dis­trict, cit­ing her work to­ward ed­u­cat­ing coun­selors on how to en­cour­age stu­dents to en­roll in a CTE path­way.

Couch said hav­ing a small high school worked to its ben­e­fit of pro­vid­ing help and guid­ance for each stu­dent.

How­ever, Buckel said the county’s size also con­trib­utes to the school sys­tem get­ting the least amount of fund­ing from the state.

As he vis­ited each class­room, Ros­apepe asked teach­ers ques­tions in­clud­ing how many stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in their pro­grams, how many work jobs out­side of school and how many go on to get a job us­ing their cer- tifi­cate. He also asked each teacher how long they have taught at the high school and what they did be­fore be­com­ing teach­ers.

Buckel said the school’s nurs­ing pro­gram has a high rate of stu­dents grad­u­at­ing with cer­tifi­cates and get­ting jobs in the field.

Academy of Health in­struc­tor Christa Col­li­son, a reg­is­tered nurse who has taught at the school for 10 years, said many of her stu­dents use the path­way as a step­ping stone to pre-med pro­grams or a nurs­ing de­gree, but about 85 per­cent get a job in the field af­ter they grad­u­ate.

Col­li­son said stu­dents grad­u­ate with three cer­ti­fi­ca­tions in­clud­ing cer­ti­fied nurs­ing as­sis­tant, phar­macy tech­ni­cian and geri­atric nurs­ing as­sis­tant. She said she has 20 se­niors grad­u­at­ing this year, and she teaches about 70 stu­dents in to­tal each year.

Ros­apepe sug­gested in­clud­ing a youth ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram in ad­di­tion to its ex­ist­ing pro­grams.

“Your kids are al­ready in ef­fect cre­at­ing their own youth ap­pren­tice­ships. ... What you’re miss­ing is the in­te­gra­tion of the on-the-job and the pro­gram here that a youth ap­pren­tice­ship re­ally strength­ens,” Ros­apepe said.

Col­li­son said Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health is a ma­jor rea­son no such pro­gram has been in­stalled. She said when she first joined the dis­trict, stu­dents were al­lowed to ap­pren­tice at the hos­pi­tal, but when Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem took over the hos­pi­tal in Chestertown, peo­ple un­der the age of 18 were not al­lowed to work there.

“That is a prob­lem for us,” Couch said.

In­stead, for Col­li­son’s stu­dents to get 70 hours of ex­pe­ri­ence in a “clin­i­cal set­ting” she takes them to nurs­ing and re­tire­ment homes in the area in­clud­ing Heron Point.

Dur­ing his tour, Ros­apepe of­fered sug­ges­tions for the

school to im­prove its CTE path­ways in­clud­ing adding an IT or a plumb­ing pro­gram. He also asked why the school of­fers car­pen­try as a path­way as op­posed to other trades.

Couch said the school would im­ple­ment more trades cer­tifi­cates, but money is an ob­sta­cle. She said switch­ing over to dif­fer­ent pro­grams such as heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing is ex­pen­sive be­cause the school has to buy new equip­ment and hire trained teach­ers.

Ros­apepe said he is draft­ing leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a state grant pro­gram to get equip­ment for CTE pro­grams.

Jamie Wil­liams said Dixon Valve & Cou­pling Co. is one of the large em­ploy­ers in the county and hav­ing trained work­ers from the high school would be a good thing.

“I can share a statis­tic: 27 per­cent of the wages in Kent County are earned from man­u­fac­tur­ing. That’s huge. It’s the largest in­dus­try sec­tor in the county by wages earned,” Jamie Wil­liams said.

Dur­ing his visit, Ros­apepe also vis­ited agri­cul­tural sciences, an­other big in­dus­try for Kent County.

Liza Goetz, the school’s ag sciences teacher, said most of the stu­dents do not earn in­dus­try cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, but chose to get credit through Univer­sity of Mary­land or Chesa­peake Col­lege. She said a lot of stu­dents are opt­ing to go to higher ed­u­ca­tion. She said there is only one cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pos­si­ble at the high school.

“Ag is huge. It’s re­ally, re­ally broad, so I have kids who want to be a vet, kids who want to be lawyers,” Goetz said.

Ros­apepe said the state wants to see more stu­dents grad­u­ate with cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

“There’s a lot of con­cern that too many kids are grad­u­at­ing from CTE pro­grams with­out any cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. They learned a lot, that’s great, but they can’t ac­tu­ally get a job and make money be­cause they’re not get­ting cer­ti­fi­ca­tions,” Ros­apepe said.

Goetz said whether or not a stu­dent will need cer­ti­fi­ca­tion af­ter high school de­pends on what they are do­ing. How­ever, she said, all as­pects of ag

science re­quire ed­u­ca­tion.

“I think when you look at ag ... you have to de­cide what you’re try­ing to do. So if you’re look­ing to do some­thing on the fam­ily farm, you’re ei­ther land rich or equip­ment rich. You can’t just be like, ‘Hey when I grow up I’m go­ing to be a farmer.’ So there has to be a lot of other op­tions that are avail­able,” Goetz said.

Goetz said there are a lot of dif­fer­ent op­tions for stu­dents to go through with ag sciences, which makes it dif­fi­cult for the school to of­fer spe­cific cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. She said the most job avail­abil­ity and op­por­tu­nity to make money is in biotech­nol­ogy. Work­ing in biotech­nol­ogy re­quires a va­ri­ety of skills rang­ing from pick­ing seeds, which does not need cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, to ge­netic work, which re­quires a col­lege de­gree.

Ros­apepe also was in­ter­ested in where Goetz’s stu­dents

work if they have jobs out­side of school in agri­cul­ture.

Ros­apepe also met with Caren Saun­ders, who teaches the CTE path­way for the Teacher Academy of Mary­land. The pro­gram, which is in its third year, still has rel­a­tively low en­roll­ment. How­ever, Saun­ders at­tributes that to the pro­gram’s new­ness.

“We are still try­ing to fig­ure out how to let stu­dents know about it and how to mar­ket it with stu­dents,” Saun­ders said. “I think if un­der­class stu­dents knew what was in­volved in the path­way, more of them might sign up.”

Stu­dents who do com­plete the path­way earn a cer­tifi­cate to be an in­struc­tional as­sis­tant.

Ros­apepe praised the dis­trict and the num­ber of stu­dents en­rolled in CTE and grad­u­at­ing with cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

“Who knew hav­ing skills was re­ally ap­pli­ca­ble in the real world?” Ros­apepe said.

PHOTO BY LEANN SCHENKE

State Sen. Jim Ros­apepe, right, takes a look at a wooden mo­tor­cy­cle con­structed by stu­dents in Kent County High School’s Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy path­way of con­struc­tion trades.

PHOTO BY LEANN SCHENKE

Liza Goetz and state Sen. Jim Ros­apepe dis­cuss the agri­cul­tural sciences at Kent County High School Dec. 20.

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