Last updated: April 15. 2014 3:48PM - 868 Views
By Jane Beathard jbeathard@civitasmedia.com

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Jonathan Alder Junior High School will partner with Tolles Career & Technical Center next year to offer classes in engineering, manufacturing and information technology, following action by the Alder board of education on Monday, April 14.

School board members approved an agreement aimed at preparing Alder students for “meaningful career pathways,” beginning in seventh grade. The Tolles board is expected to approve the agreement in coming weeks.

Alder curriculum director Misty Swanger said Tolles’ administrators suggested the joint venture after Gov. John Kasich recently urged Ohio schools to begin offering career-technical education earlier.

“They are bringing it to us at no cost to us,” Swanger said. “We are getting out ahead of the governor’s plan.”

Classes will target students likely to join the workforce directly after high school, as well as those interested in obtaining associate or bachelor degrees in engineering and similar technical fields.

Under a memorandum of understanding, Tolles will provide instructors and industry-standard equipment for designated junior high classrooms. Alder staff will handle scheduling.

“Overall, this is a way to help students explore their interests and abilities much sooner and get a jump-start on a career-technical pathway…,” said Tolles Superintendent Kim Wilson in a news release. “Our region needs highly qualified workers in these areas so garnering the attention of younger students for these fields is vital to making that happen.”

Superintendent Gary Chapman noted the district’s proximity to Honda of America’s many facilities and feeder factories in central and western Ohio and the Online Computer Library Center in Dublin posed “tremendous opportunity” for Alder students to leave high school ready for a career.

“We have no choice but to venture in,” he said.

The press release noted only 25 percent of students who enroll in college nationwide finish with a four-year degree. A Harvard University study showed by 2018 nearly 60 percent of all jobs in America will require skilled training, including an associate degree or industry credential.

“We want to set up all students for success after high school based on the realities in the labor market,” Wilson said.

Tolles offers classes in 22 career and technical programs. Students may earn both college credits and industry credentials. It serves seven central Ohio school districts, including all four in Madison County.

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616 ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.

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