Standing in Brookfield High School’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program classroom, with kids measuring and sawing pieces of wood for a Halloween-themed project, Mike Kahoe said he could spend the whole day watching the students work.
Brookfield school officials, though, had a lot more for Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted’s regional liaison to see. Kahoe visited the school Sept. 21.
“This visit was an opportunity to see Brookfield schools’ Pre-Apprenticeship Program and their Industry 4.0 program funded through $1.2 million of IWIP funds from the State of Ohio,” said Hayley Carducci, Husted’s press secretary, who was not present for the visit. Kahoe referred media questions to Carducci.
“Lt. Gov. Husted has been a strong supporter of these types of workforce programs that help students earn industry-recognized credentials to support Ohio companies who need people with these skills immediately,” Carducci said. “Our entire workforce team and regional representatives work hard to promote this work across the state, as well as learn about their progress to inform future state initiatives.”
The Innovative Workforce Incentive Program grant provided funding for Brookfield to hire a teacher for science, engineering, technology and math in grades kindergarten through eight, and buy equipment for older students to be exposed to certain skilled trades and earn industry credentials.
The elementary STEM program gives students “a little piece of what they can get a big piece of at the high school,” said elementary Principal Stacey Filicky.
The Pre-Apprenticeship Program is an updated version of what used to be known as wood shop.
Kahoe talked with middle school teacher Marissa Miller about the Career-based Intervention and College and Career Readiness programs. Principal Craig Boles said these classes are part of the middle school’s effort to expose students to concepts of the programs offered at the high school.
Kahoe toured the Maker Space, where students use an array of cutting and printing machines to make things for personal use, class assignments or to sell as part of a school or group project.
“If you’re a student and you have an idea, we sit you down at a computer,” said Maker Space Coordinator George Lesnansky. The students design their ideas, and produce a finished product.
Students of all ages use the Maker Space, including fifth-grade students who created stickers of their drawings, and older middle school students who superimposed their faces on figures in vintage military posters and made new posters, said Jim Haywood, who also teaches in the Maker Space.
What students learn in the Maker Space ties into more traditional academic lessons, Lesnansky said.
“Everything in here is a math problem,” he said. “Everything in here is an English language arts problem. We try to integrate the curriculum into this facility.”
Industry 4.0 and robotics teacher Josilyn Kirila had students show Kahoe some of the equipment they are working on, including junior Kaiden Kirila creating circuits and sophomore Josh Schell teaching Kahoe how to work a robotic arm.
Kahoe said he tours lots of industries and has seen some of the equipment Brookfield students work with in those settings, and added that computer design skills are transferable to so many businesses, including some that are not industrial.
“It’s really great stuff you guys are doing here,” he said. “I bet the students don’t even realize they’re learning.”
These programs are part of the district’s effort to offer more than reading, writing and arithmetic to students, and better prepare them for life after school, school officials said. Career counselor Rob Eggleston, who is assigned to Brookfield by the Educational Service Center of Eastern Ohio, said these programs help students meet some of the new graduation pathways criteria that the state has implemented in recent years.
Supt. Toby Gibson said he is working with VAZA Consulting to get the school district designated a STEM school, and wants to create a program where adults can come into the school and use the equipment to learn new skills to make themselves more employable.