Derry High teaches public service
By Greg Reinbold
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Educators and administrators at Derry Area High School have developed a win-win situation with the school's new Transitional Technologies program.
Students get hands-on instruction and experience in multiple subject areas such as woodworking, masonry, carpentry and electrical work while helping the district maintain and improve its facilities. Students also garner advice on entering the job market and crafting attractive resumés.
Technology educator John Baum and learning support teacher David McCleary teach the group of roughly 15 mostly upperclassmen for two periods per day.
“The way it was before, just having a couple learning support kids in with 20 other kids, they weren't getting the attention that they really needed,” Baum said. “Now we can really focus on the kids that really need the extra help because there's two of us in the classroom together.”
So far, students have repaired and refinished benches along the walking path near the school and fixed playground equipment at Grandview Elementary School.
“We're doing a lot of public service-type activities here,” Baum said. “We're repairing the benches we have along the walking path and over around the lake. We helped fix a playground up at Grandview for the elementary kids. We're going to be doing the roofs for the dugouts, both the baseball and softball dugouts. We're going to be replacing the roofs on those buildings.
“We've done some woodworking here. We're learning how to operate the machines in the wood shop,” Baum said. “The kids have operated all the machines. They've taken all the safety tests. They've also built a couple projects already. We're going to be moving on to some electrical. We're going to do some concrete work. We're going to do some plumbing.”
In addition to useful technical skills, the program helps students prepare to enter the job market.
“A lot of them are learning support students working toward their transitional goals. Our mission here is to develop skills for these kids, so when they get out in the job market, they're marketable,” Baum said. “We're going to try to help them with job placement.”
Baum said he expects interest in the program to increase next school year. Because the class was devised after student scheduling took place for the school year, guidance counselors helped interested students adjust their schedules to participate.
“This year, when we start scheduling in January, it will be on the sheet when they pick their classes for next year,” Baum said. “I definitely think we're going to get more kids. Word's getting out about some of the things we're doing, and I think kids are definitely on board with this.”
Derry Area Superintendent David Welling spoke to the class earlier in the school year about how to present themselves when interviewing for a job, and Baum said other speakers and field trips are lined up for the class.
“We're all kind of working together as a team here,” Baum said. “It truly is a win-win situation for everybody involved, but mainly for the kids.”
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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