Being the author of a monthly newspaper column on behalf of Tolles Career & Technical Center is a new experience for me – one I am enjoying.
I find myself considering what I think might be important to share with you.
I imagine you sitting at your kitchen table or on your front porch, maybe in your favorite recliner with a cup of coffee and a few minutes of quiet and newspaper in hand. Maybe you are reading online.
And now, in some way, I am there with you, too, sharing my thoughts on education in its current context.
The reality that what I write makes an impact became very clear to me with the last article published July 8: "Getting Technical: College trumps all paths? This mom learned otherwise." We received more feedback from this article than any of them to date. Thank you for reaching out and sharing some of your thoughts with me.
Why did the last article strike a chord?
I think the personal struggle of trying to decide which of the myriad educational options available to our children and grandchildren is the "right one" is something to which we all can relate.
Much of the feedback we received said, "Thank you for sharing your thoughts, thank you for telling people that there are other paths to career success other than college and thank you for validating what we already knew but didn't feel like we could say in the 'college-for-all' world."
The response from our readers was a resounding "Yes!" Career-technical education is valid and not the lesser option to a four-year degree. It is an equally productive and important route to career success.
The struggle to decide which option is the right one is real, and as a parent, I, too, feel this pull. When my daughter (the one I wrote about last month) graduated from high school, each of my friends said to me, "Where is she going to college?" College was a given, and when I shared that she was attending a technical school for music and video production, people's attitudes changed and their language softened as if they had to somehow console me because my valedictorian daughter had not chosen "the right path." I had to remind them that she did her homework and she chose the right path for the career that inspires her.
What do we want for our children?
I think we want them – or at least I want them – to have had enough experiences in their younger lives to know what they are good at, what sparks a fire in them and which career choices will provide for their future families. If they can begin to understand that, then we can help them find a career field that matches.
Then we work backward. To have this kind of career, you will need to ______. Fill in the blank: Go to college, get a certification, join an apprenticeship program, build a portfolio of your skills -- the list goes on and on.
The answer shouldn't be: Go to college, and then figure out what career field might inspire you.
Public education has changed so much in the past 15 years that a discerning decision-maker is faced with a variety of options that were not available in the past. And many of these can create experiences where our children can learn what they are good at, what sparks a fire in them and what will provide for their future families.
Should a parent seek out problem-based learning instead of lecture (what we in education call "sit and get"), earning college credit while in high school, participating in mentorship or internship programs, hands-on, real-life, authentic experiences or earning industry credentials for his/her child? The answer is a resounding "Yes!"
And it is not a "Yes!" to only one of those options. Our resounding "Yes!" is because we want all of those options. Guess what? You can find every one of these experiences through career-technical education.
Be college-bound. Be career-bound. Be military-bound. Explore the real-world through career-technical education.
Let's talk more about it.
Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center, which includes students from the Dublin and Hilliard school districts. Contact her at ebeeson@ tollestech.com.