Butler Tech strives to reach the greatest number of students each and every day through courses in middle school, high school, and adult education. And for the first time, thanks to a partnership with Middletown City Schools, career technical education is being introduced to elementary students.
Career tech elementary education is now part of Middletown’s Passport to Tomorrow initiative, a goal for every Middie student to graduate “ready now” for enlistment, employment, or higher education.
Jen Hayes, Butler Tech and Middletown’s K-12 Career Coordinator works closely with one teacher at each of the 7 elementary schools in the Middletown district to introduce career awareness and soft skill educational classes to each student, every week.
“The classes are taught through hands-on centers, play, speakers, field trips, and real-world experiences,” explained Hayes. “Students experience this career tech education once or twice a week for forty-five minutes.”
Thus far the students have experienced career exposure such as indoor farming with a garden tower, a model airplane assembly line, and numerous guest speakers and touch-a-truck opportunities with local police, fire, and power and electric companies among others.
Hayes says that the response from the students has been overwhelmingly positive and feels that the engagement from the students is indicative of them being given permission to take control of their lives and begin thinking about what they can be when they grow up.
“Elementary career education is vital to keeping students off the streets and working toward becoming productive members of society,” shared Hayes. “That’s why it is imperative that career exposure is possible throughout the entire K-12 journey.”
Research shows that when students are exposed to a career tech-based curriculum at a young age, a higher percentage of students form interests in career and technical fields. The Butler Tech – Middletown City Schools partnership also believes that this early exposure will eliminate preconceived notions of the types of individuals that are typically employed in certain fields and instead give them the chance to think about and take control of their future and perhaps become trailblazers in non-traditional roles.
The Butler Tech/Middletown City Schools career tech elementary education initiative is funded primarily through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) aimed at addressing pandemic learning loss and investments in infrastructure and programs to open and operate safely. Additionally, local businesses have signed on to support the students and even guarantee students interviews and/or help with higher education admissions process in the future.
“Thanks to endorsing business partners who are assisting with funding, materials, and the expertise of their staff, we are also able to pair each student with a mentor who will help to ensure they leverage their talents and interests to find a path that fits the students’ passion,” said Hayes.
Some of the mentors will be classroom teachers while others will be business partners. Adopt-A-Class, which is a non-profit organization, is helping to bring those businesses in to mentor the 3rd-5th grade classes at Wildwood and Mayfield elementary schools with an ultimate goal to fill all 7 elementary schools with area business mentors.