GTPulse: Going Beyond the Classroom: TBA’s Career Tech Center Programs Work Together to Solve Problems
As the temperatures began to fall, and the first round of bar and restaurant pauses on indoor dining hit our area, heated igloos and mini-greenhouses began popping up all around our region. The problem for many, however, was that after months of closures and financial losses due to the pandemic, many small restaurants couldn’t swing the rising cost of outdoor structures.
Amy Brooks, a Parapro in the Culinary Arts program happens to know the restaurant industry well. She knew of the struggles many eateries were having, so she walked down the hall to see Tom Sensabaugh, the instructor for the Construction Trades department. Amy presented a challenge for Tom’s department: Build an affordable but functional Culinary prototype for area restaurants.
Tom knew his students would be up for the building challenge, but he needed an inexpensive way to wrap the Thermo-ply sheathing. That brought in yet another department—the small engine department—which used shrink wrap usually used to winterize boats, as an insulating cover.
Students from each of the departments worked together to design the prototype-type based on the real-world needs of restaurants. The door had to be easy for a server to maneuver while holding a tray, it had to be light but sturdy, and tall enough for a person to stand without crouching. The building materials had to be strong but cheap and resistant to the winter elements.
Assistant Superintendent Patrick Lamb says this kind of collaboration is a common occurrence at CTC, because collaboration and problem solving are the foundation of working in the real world. “It’s relevant learning taught by certified teachers and industry professionals. We teach kids to be critical thinkers and problem solvers.”
The program offerings at TBA Career Tech Center go beyond engine repair, construction and culinary arts. With twenty-three technical programs in six categories, Career Tech Center truly has something for everyone. The popularity of programming has changed throughout the years.
Patrick Lamb says the Allied Health program has been attractive to students for several years, and for good reason. But, this year, one program saw a big increase in student interest, “Our electrical program exploded this year. We have 79 students between A.M. and P.M. programs. Students who want to learn to be an electrician or go into a line-worker program.”
Another program that offers students true hands on experience is the Teacher Academy. Students only attend the CTC campus seven times during their year. The rest of the program is spent observing classrooms within each student’s home district. They are paired with educators and they spend time inside elementary, middle school and high school classrooms.
Patrick says by trying out careers in high school, students will have a better idea of what they want to do before they spend money figuring it out in college, “They earn 450 hours of direct observation, which counts for post-secondary education. This program has received accolades and recognition from across the country, but the best part is that if a student is interested in education, they will know if they want to be a teacher by the end of their time with us.”