Kim Nguyen, director of the Wawasee Area Career and Technical Cooperative, is passionate about the options available to students in the career and technical program and when given the chance, he shares his enthusiasm with others. During Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee school board in Syracuse, he gave a detailed report to the board about the career and technical program.
Nguyen noted the marine mechanics program for Wawasee High School only had six students in its first year last year, but enrollment has more than doubled this year with about 16 in the morning and afternoon classes. “We are running full bore now,” he said, and a powersports component has been added to the program. Students get training on motors for boats, waverunners, outboard motors, “about every mid-range motor you can think of,” he said.
Due to the timing of the school year ending in late May or early June, typically the busy season for marinas, students are ready to be placed in job openings at local marinas. Last year, four of the six students were placed in positions at Protech, Griffiths and Patona Bay.
Several donations have helped the marine mechanics program including one from Rinker of a specially made rear end of a boat where an engine can be mounted for training purposes. Bombardier Recreational Products is providing six technical certifications for students this year. A wood boat project will be started soon, he added.
Project Lead The Way is an ongoing initiative at WHS and a robotics club has been added, as well as a digital electronics class. A robotics class may be added next year. The middle schools are now using Gateway to Technology to learn engineering principles, automation and robotics, which in turn will enable the levels of classes at the high school to be raised in the future. Nguyen said he hopes to see PLTW added at the elementary school level soon.
Nguyen said the advanced manufacturing and logistics classes planned for the high school through the Connexus program are at a standstill because only three Wawasee students enrolled, though Fairfield had 18 enroll. Polywood is a partner in the program and will allow students to take tours of its facilities and provide internships.
He noted the summer Eco Challenge Camp is growing and 19 of the 22 students who started this summer finished the challenge. Grants completely funded Eco Challenge.
Automotive trades is growing and some students can’t be accepted because there is not enough room. Auto students can get dual credits through Ivy Tech and other colleges.
Tyler Boganwright is a new instructor for agriculture classes. Wawasee, West Noble and Fairfield building trades students are teaming up to build a house in Elkhart County. West Noble will be joining a different co-op in Kendallville starting next year, but will still send students to classes at Wawasee. Nguyen has contacted a few local schools to gauge interest in joining the Wawasee co-op.
And Nguyen hopes to see connections made with the local orthopedics industry. “Orthopedics is big now,” he said.
In other business, during his Stat of the Month presentation Dr. Bob Cockburn gave a brief report on Fountas and Pinnell results for 2012-2014. Fountas and Pinnell are screening tests for reading administered individually by teachers in grades kindergarten, first and second twice each year. An assessment is given and scored.
Cockburn noted, for example, more than 80 percent of second grade students exceeded expectations during the 2013-14 school year.
Other agenda items included:
• The board approved the donation of six wave runner engines to the marine mechanics program by Protech Marine.
• The board approved adoption of the 2015 budget. There were no objections or petitions filed.
• Joy Goshert, director of instruction and curriculum for Wawasee schools, noted several teachers will attend workshops to get prepared for the new state academic standards.