A few years ago, I walked into a high school math class and witnessed the age-old student-teacher exchange called “Why Do I Have to Learn This?”

The students were working on some abstract math problem and were frustrated with being unable to identify any real-life application for their efforts.

When one of the students mustered the courage to ask the teacher, “Why do I have to learn this?” the teacher replied with a true but unsatisfying answer: “Learning this will make you a well-rounded person and help build your critical-thinking skills.”

Again, although true, do you remember being 16? This was not a very motivating answer.

One of my personal quests as an educator is to design experiences for students that engage them in their learning so the time and talent they devote to their work is actually meaningful to them, not just a hoop to jump through.

I have found a beautiful vehicle for this in career-technical education.

In early December, Ohio rolled out an updated list of jobs that are in demand in a searchable database. These jobs pay at least 80% of the state median wage and are growing faster than other jobs.

I am very excited to report that of the 21 programs offered on Tolles Career & Technical Center’s Career Campus, 16 could lead to an in-demand job in Ohio. And of our 20 satellite programs offered in our associate schools, 19 could lead a student to these top jobs.

This is quite an opportunity for students in the Dublin and Hilliard school districts.

An education at Tolles Career & Technical Center could lead to such careers as:

• Agriculture

• Automotive-service technicians and mechanics

• Computer programmers

• Computer-support specialists

• Construction and trade specialists

• Educators

• Engineers

• Food service and chefs

• Graphic designers

• Industrial engineering/maintenance

• Marketing specialists

• Nurses

• Pharmacists

• Physical therapists

• Robotics engineers

• Software developers

• Welding and fabrication

Whether career-technical education provides the jump-start to college for some of the careers listed or prepares a student with the technical skills to move into an in-demand job with no college debt, it is a great option.

Did you know career-technical education can do that? Almost all of our programs offer students college credit for free while in high school. Why just earn a high school diploma when you also could earn industry credentials and college credit?

So back to our opening question.

In many of our traditional classrooms, the timeless question still exists. It is the same question we asked our teachers when we were in school, and the system has changed to address it. “Why do I have to learn this?” Or how about, “When am I ever going to use this?”

At Tolles, we have an answer: “Your work as a student leads to a sustainable wage with a promising future.”

Our vision as a leader in career-technical education is to launch students into their dreams for their future, and we can do this by ensuring they don’t “just earn a high school diploma,” that they don’t just jump through the hoops, but that they have meaningful educational experiences that leave them fulfilled and prepared.

Explore the in-demand-jobs database from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation at topjobs.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/indemand.

If you are a student or parent of a student who will be in 10th, 11th or 12 grade for the next school year, now is the time to apply at Tolles for a spot in one of our in-demand programs. Complete an application at tollestech.com/apply.aspx before Jan. 20.

Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center, which includes students from the Dublin and Hilliard school districts. Email her at ebeeson@tollestech.com.