CTE in Action: Sonoma Valley HS Student Takes on Power Mechanics

Student stands next to lawn mower in SVHS Power Mechanics class

Annie has a look of intense concentration on her face. Peering in to the depths of a piece of machinery with the help of a flashlight held by her fellow student, she cranks an unseen part into place, intent on re-assembling the four-stroke combustion engine at her work station. She is the only girl in the class.

Faced with a choice to enroll in either a newspaper class or Power Mechanics, Annie chose to go with the traditionally male-dominated course. “I’m involved in a lot of Agriculture classes already, so I thought I’d take one more,” she said, “I thought I’d get to learn something new, and it would be a fun experience.”

Power Mechanics is one of many electives in Sonoma Valley High School’s Agriculture Academy/Career Pathway program.

The class teaches the basics of engine design, repair, and maintenance, providing students an opportunity to learn technical skills relevant to the agriculture industry in a hands-on environment.

When asked how she feels about being the only girl in class, fifteen year-old Annie smiles. “It’s a little different,” she says, “when I first started the class I was really quiet and didn’t talk to anyone because they were older and felt intimidating.” She laughs, reflecting on those first days. “I have some friends in here now, I got used to them, they’re all really funny and pretty nice, so it’s easier now.”

Annie clearly enjoys the technical knowledge she’s learned in the class. When asked how she is applying her new skills, she smiles broadly and says, “Right now I’m repairing my dad’s lawn mower.” Annie’s family owns a dairy and a vineyard, so in addition to regular lawn maintenance, there is always farm equipment that needs to be repaired and maintained. Annie is happy that she can now help with these chores, and it sounds like her father is too.

“He thinks it’s pretty cool and he’s excited that he can talk to me about some of this stuff,” she says.

Engine maintenance aside, Annie plans on staying in the family business. She is enrolled in Plant and Soil Science and is planning to take a viticulture class in the near future.

CTE Month Student Profile: El Molino Sophomore Refines his Brand in Project Make Class

Ben A., a student at El Molino High School, is creating a new clothing brand that he believes will be a big hit among his peers. At fifteen years old his friends are already rallying behind his idea, and Ben is starting to make T-shirts with the logo he designed. Ben’s participation in his school’s Project Make class has helped him develop his brand ideas and spurred his interest in entrepreneurship.

Project Make is a CTE course that teaches students basic design and engineering principles, and allows them to practice using tools and technology currently in use in a variety of industries, such as 3D modeling and printing, graphic design software, simple circuitry and computer programming. In addition to learning technical skills related to design and manufacture, the class develops skills in project management, budgeting, problem-solving, and communication.

At 11 years old, Ben had his first encounter with Photoshop and was immediately hooked on the ability to create and manipulate images.

Friends took notice and complemented him on his unique designs, and then people began to pay him to create designs for them. “It’s really cool to make your own stuff,” Ben says, “Making a brand, putting it out there, and hearing people get excited about something you’ve made and they’ve never seen before; it’s great!”

Ben joined the Project Make class to be able to explore different graphic design tools and technology, and to have dedicated time to work on his creative ideas. His latest creation is a new clothing brand, Gloomy. Ben conceived the name, developed the graphic design for the brand, created decals for application on clothing, and is now thinking about how to market it. “I hope to go somewhere with this,” says Ben, “I want to invest in my design and to earn money on this idea, so that by the time I’m 19 I’ll have an income.”

Ben is considering his post high school options now. Going to college to get a marketing degree is one option, going to a school where he can build on his skills in design and video production is another. Whichever path he chooses, he’s certain that a career in creative design and marketing is in his future.

Sonoma Clean Power’s New Video Featuring Switch Lab

Thank you, Sonoma Clean Power, for producing this great video featuring the Switch Lab and the terrific impact it is having on our local students! The Switch Lab has proven itself to be a powerful vehicle for teaching students about clean energy solutions for everyday challenges. This hands-on curriculum helps students build both technical and soft skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and applying academic learning in math, science, and technology.

Founder Tony Crabb Interviewed by The Press Democrat

The Press Democrat talked to our founder, Tony Crabb, to learn more about his “light-bulb moment” and the importance of bringing relevancy to education. It started one day while visiting Healdsburg High School’s Construction and Sustainability Academy, there he observed a group of students paying close attention to the math lesson the teacher was giving via instructions on how to design and build a roof.

“I realized that we needed to bring the academic element into the shop environment,” Tony said. “We had to make learning hands-on.”

Read the article in its entirety here.

Educating Students for the Real World Through Work Based Learning

Educating Students for the Real World Through Work Based Learning

NBBJ Publishes Our Thoughts on Work Based Learning

A New Model for Sonoma County

The North Bay Business Journal (NBBJ) this week published our guest article! Co-written by Kathy Goodacre, CTE Foundation Executive Director, and CTE Foundation Board Liaison Stephen Jackson from SCOE, the piece presents basic principles of Sonoma County’s work-based learning initiative and the many benefits it generates for students, local industry and the community.

Success in school over past decades has been measured by standardized test scores and college entry statistics, mostly ignoring the more intangible measure of how prepared a student is to navigate the challenges of work and life upon graduation from high school or college. The ability to regurgitate memorized knowledge is certainly easier to quantify than one’s ability to

apply critical thinking and creativity to solve a real-world challenge. But our attempt to assess educational success by multiple choice test scores has led to a slew of graduates that can recite a solution to a math problem while having no idea how to generate it or to which issues to employ its use. Nor do they have any understanding for why their academic courses matter in the real world.

 

Hiring and training managers in a variety of industries repeatedly lament the ill-prepared nature of today’s entry-level job candidates. Our newest members of the workforce lack basic skills in communication, project and time management, problem-solving, and self-direction, among others.

 

Work-based learning is currently being employed in Sonoma County schools as a strategy to better prepare students for college and career and as an instructional tool in the classroom. This approach integrates career exploration, technical and soft skills training, and hands-on industry-related project work with traditional academics, ultimately creating a deeper learning experience that is highly relevant to life after school. It ensures that students are exposed to potential careers at a young age, starting in grade school, and provides a spectrum of opportunities to observe and apply classroom learning via job shadowing, internships, and industry-mentored project work.

Read the article in its entirety here.