COLUMNS

Getting Technical: During uncertain times, Tolles' mission endures

EMMY BEESON
Emmy Beeson

Just as I wrote last month, the unknown has been lurking around every corner during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

As I wrote this column, Tolles Career & Technical Center leaders were waiting for Gov. Mike DeWine's announcements regarding what school will be like in the fall.

And just like everyone else, we have been planning three phases for school facilities to be ready regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves.

We are prepared for a traditional school setting with health protocols in place, blended learning that will reduce the number of students on our campus while others take classes online and a completely remote environment should we need to make that decision for a period of time.

All schools are in the same boat.

As the environment and circumstances we find ourselves in have been more different than we could ever have imagined, the skills we need to provide our young people remain the same.

Preparing students for a work environment – whether they attend college before they go to work or enter the workforce right out of school – is the endgame. It isn't "college and career" – it ultimately is "career."

Although many students will spend their time participating in sports, music and fine arts, students at Tolles spend time preparing for the next step in life.

Please do not misunderstand me. The lessons learned in sports and extracurricular activities are invaluable, and we know from research that those lessons in teamwork, problem-solving and confidence-building benefit students.

But this is something amazing about career-technical education: Career and technical student organizations provide leadership and career-skill-development training opportunities for young people that build the characteristics and skills one might find in sports and extracurricular activities but in a setting that creates employment skills. Tolles students have the opportunity to compete in district, regional, state and national levels. This year, students from the Dublin and Hilliard city school districts participated at Tolles and won state-level awards in the following categories: video production, children's literature K-3, irrigation installation, skid-steer operations, medical reading, home health aide, personal care and ProStart management.

We are so proud of these students, who, despite the extended closure, applied themselves and succeeded in demonstrating their skills and knowledge in competition with others from around the state. As Tolles prepares to welcome the next junior class and our rising seniors, we are excited to know we will be supporting the largest enrollment in our history.

This will provide more opportunities for more students to be engaged with authentic, hands-on, college jump-start education. Knowing that each of these students will be afforded the leadership and career-skill-development opportunities found in our career and technical student organizations brings excitement to the coming school year. We might not know for sure how school will look from day to day, but we do know what we will be preparing our students to accomplish.

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.