Kimberly and Menasha Schools renovate building and culinary classrooms

Claire Novin took her first construction course in the second semester of her freshman year. She was “a bit late for the game,” as she described it, but still managed to fit into an apprenticeship and graduate from the school of architecture, construction and engineering at Kimberley High School.

She may feel like she’s late to start her construction classes, but Novin earned enough double credit to complete her time at Fox Valley Technical College in 2½ semesters instead of four.

And at 18, she already has two years of experience in the field.

“Me, personally, I like to be ahead of the game,” Novin said.

Novin’s journey is just one example of how high school students in Kimberly and throughout the Fox Valley are using vocational and technical education courses to effectively experiment with future jobs and even earn college credits.

Career and Technical Education, or CTE, is an umbrella term for classes, apprenticeships, and other career-based learning opportunities that allow high school students to explore different industries. It includes opportunities such as welding, electricity, early childhood and health care.

Less than 10 years ago, Kimberly High School remodeled its construction lab to create more classrooms, workspaces and bathrooms for female students. Interest in these classes has continued to grow, so another expansion is already underway.

In late September, the Kimberly School Board approved a $312,000 project to add 3,120 square feet to the construction lab behind the main school building. The extra space will create some breathing room for welding and construction classes that quickly run out of space.

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This school year there have been around 1,400 applications across all vocational and technical classes at Kimberly High School – ranging from cooking to a building class called ‘Around the House’ which teaches students about repairs home base.

The 1,400 requests fall short of 1,400 students, since a student can request multiple CTE courses, but Principal Jackie DePeau said that was “a lot” of requests. Focus on construction-related courses, there were more than 460 requests this school year compared to just under 200 in 2012.

“(It’s) kind of a landscape that we’ve been building for a number of years with our K-12 partners,” said Mary Hansen, director of K-12 partnerships for Fox Valley Tech.

During the 2021-22 school year, hundreds of students enrolled in dual credit courses, earning both high school and college credits at no additional cost through Fox Valley Tech. Dual credit courses cover a variety of topics, including medical terminology, math, and more. Some courses may have small fees for materials, but there is no fee for the dual credit courses themselves.

More than 430 Kimberly students were enrolled in dual credit courses, which equates to nearly $235,000 in tuition, according to data provided by Hansen. Hortonville and Neenah saw similar numbers. Kaukauna had over 600 students enrolled in dual credit courses, which equates to over $406,000 in tuition savings.

“Dual credit is just common language in high schools now,” Hansen said.

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From construction to cooking, students are more interested in career-readiness courses

Steve Masanz, who teaches building classes at Kimberly High School, said it would take about two years to complete the expansion. The plan is expected to start this fall once the school receives the required permits.

As he tells his students, “We don’t go to class. We build it.

There will be help from some local contractors, but the vast majority of Kimberly’s addition will be built by students during school hours. Having the students complete the project halves the estimated cost, Masanz explained.

Kimberly isn’t alone in her growing interest in vocational and technical training courses.

Between last school year and this one, there has been growth in family and consumer science classes at the Menasha Joint School District, said program and instruction director Shelly Daun.

The growth is due, in large part, to the district’s collaboration with Fox Valley Tech and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to develop pathways for students interested in cooking and education.

“The demand for courses has increased dramatically,” Daun said.

While culinary and educational pathways drove most of the increase, there are also family and consumer science courses in interior design, fashion design, and business development. the child.

To meet increased demand, two new full-time staff have been added to the Family and Consumer Sciences team, growing from one teacher to three.

Daun said finding teachers for these classes can be a challenge. Difficulty finding teachers for technical education and family and consumer science classes may reduce the classes the district is able to offer, she added.

Fox Valley Tech has been a big help in this regard, Daun said, but even the technical college is struggling to find teachers because many people in these fields choose to continue working in industry rather than teach it to students.

Along with the staff increase, Menasha remodeled the Culinary Room and added more high school cooking stations over the summer. District buildings and grounds staff worked with Fox Valley Tech to create a space that would provide students with an experience similar to attending classes as they would at technical college.

DePeau said Kimberly intended to expose students to all potential post-graduate paths, including two- and four-year schooling, military service and direct entry into the workforce.

During their first two years, students listen to presentations from hundreds of guest speakers for each of the four general tracks.

Masanz said he’s noticed a “shift in stigma” around students pursuing vocational and technical education in hopes of entering the workforce directly after graduation. He finds that more parents are asking him about it and that students are aware of job opportunities and potential income.

Contact AnnMarie Hilton at [email protected] or 920-370-8045. Follow her on Twitter at @hilton_annmarie.

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