Getting Technical: Many are thankful for career-technical education at Tolles

Emmy Beeson
Guest columnist

I try to live every day in a spirit of gratitude.

For years I have kept a "gratitude journal," in which I write items I am thankful for and have a rule that I can’t repeat things from the recent past. This forces me to see goodness even in the little things, like birds chirping or the sunshine streaming in through the sunroof of my car on a snowy day.

Emmy Beeson

And although I try to live with this spirit of gratitude all year long, this time of year, in particular, reminds me to pause and be thankful.

As a country, we just celebrated Thanksgiving, and as we are coming into the holiday season, I’m taking time to really think about the people, concepts, events and values that have impacted my life. One that I am incredibly grateful for, as you might imagine given my role as a career-technical superintendent, is the concept of career-technical education.

I have the unique perspective of seeing what career-technical education is in its current context and how it transforms lives, both of high school students and also the adults we serve through our adult-education programs as one of Ohio’s technical centers.

Perhaps, your only experience with Tolles Career & Technical Center or even career-technical education in general is decades old. The Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education states, “Today, many parents of high-school-age students remember that going to the vocational school meant you weren't going to college. That is not true today, as career-technical education students must meet the same academic requirements of all high school students as well as complete additional coursework in their chosen field. In fact, most students go on to college – almost 60% to 70% according to Ohio Department of Education stats. (That figure is 70% at Tolles.)

"In Ohio, every high school student has the opportunity to enroll in a career-technical education course of study. This means that in addition to the rigorous academic requirements, students take specific classes in their chosen field. Engineering, health care, computer graphics, auto technology and culinary arts are just a few of the 16 career fields in which Ohio high school students can enroll. This specialized education is delivered through career centers or in the local high school, depending on where the student lives in Ohio. Many career-technical programs also offer additional programs to assist area residents in training for regional opportunities after high school.”

Related link:What is career-technical education?

Most Tolles students go on to college or postsecondary education and are the individuals seeking out career opportunities in our most in-demand fields. We can talk about these kinds of stats, and of course I am grateful for the data, but what really moves us are the individual stories of students who get a jump start into the next step of their learning journeys.

I have watched students excel to national levels of leadership in their chosen career fields and obtain internship experiences that supported them through college and then resulted in full-time, high-paying employment.

I have witnessed students who didn’t believe in their own potential yet discovered their own strengths, implemented plans for success and achieved beyond their original dreams.

When I see these individual empowerment stories, I can’t help but be grateful.

This is a season of gratitude and a season of giving. At Tolles, we are opening our application window for students to attend one of our 21 programs for the 2021-22 academic year.

Now is the time to explore the best-kept secret in central Ohio. Give your child or your grandchild the opportunity to explore a unique future that builds life skills, paves the way for higher education and opens doors to high-wage employment.

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.