Today Matters, Vantage Superintendent Blog



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

For the Greener Good. . .

Lots of people have been asking about our new solar array. I thought I would answer some frequently asked questions here, and follow up with a brief  "take away" card to give to staff and visitors to Vantage. These will be placed in our school offices, easily accessible by visitors and staff.

Here are the Solar "FAST FACTS"!

Curricular interests are the main reason Vantage pursued solar power. We have an obligation to train a skilled workforce in alternative and renewable energy, particularly since we are located within utility scale wind farms.

1. The 4200 panel solar array is located on 3.5 acres of school property.
2. Vantage leased the site to Solar Planet, and in return we buy the solar power generated for 25 years.
3. Vantage has the option to buy the array, at current market value after 10 years and thereafter during the
4. The average power estimate is 50% of the power Vantage uses daily, 80% at peak generation and usage.
5. The largest cost saved is distribution charges for electricity on the utility electric bills.
6. The price per kWh for solar power is slightly less than current utility electric rates and will remain so for
     length of the agreement. The price will raise incrementally every few years throughout the agreement.
7. The only cost to Vantage is for the power we purchase and the legal fees incurred for the contract.
8. The solar array was planned prior to the recent construction project, and is not a part of the project.
9. Roof top arrays were considered. The existing structure was unable to support the array's weight.
10. Real-time generation records can be accessed via internet-based software in the school's office areas.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inspired Blogging

I just returned from a classroom impromptu visit. Some Vantage instructors in the English department are delving into ideas to change up their teaching methods and improve student learning. I observed a practice session of the Socratic Seminar, one of the first ways this dedicated group of instructors is seeking to accomplish their task. The underlying concept:  students must improve their "how to learn" before they can actually learn the critical thinking skills necesssary for success in our world.

What an enjoyable experience the Socratic Seminar was! I looked at the clock when the students started, 10:10, and became so engrossed in what they were doing that when I next thought to check the time, it was 10:31 a.m.! While 21 minutes may not seem like much, it can be an eternity to any student of any age when they are in a boring class. Teacher Sonya Yenser-Hammon facilitated the group, encouraging, reinforcing, complimenting, and steering the students' participation. The effect was a serene learning experience, in a supportive environment, where even the most timid student would not have left the room dreading to come to class the next day. Making this even more fantastic for me, was that I had observed this teacher almost 10 years ago, for a High Schools That Work technical assistant visit, (before coming to Vantage as superintendent). The classroom I saw then, and the classroom today were worlds apart.

Of course, I loved the lesson itself--art-based, with students focused on interpreting a Magritte painting, not knowing the title, and vocalizing their observations, responding to others' feedback, and offering names for the painting. Each student had been given a one-page summary of Magritte's life the day before, and focused on an image of the painting projected on the screen during class.

I hope to see more of this student-centered instruction in all of our classrooms. The old roles of "sit and get" or teacher as "the sage on the stage" are not methods which engage students today. Congratulations and good work, English department! You tried something new, and I like it. Hopefully our students will, also!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Time slips away. . .It's October!

Perhaps I should share my blog posts on Google+, to give me added pressure to blog regularly. The feature notifies my contacts that I added a new post. It may push me to 'micro-blogging' --yes, it's just what it sounds like--very short blogs! (Not sure I can do that . . .) I should at least start a new routine and blog first thing in the morning, (and not log into email), which jumpstarts the day in other directions!

September's gone, but I love October. The colors of fall are beautiful already and it promises to be a terrific season. Much of our activity at school is seasonal, too--particular student activities and topics in each curricular area definitely fall into a routine or sequence of instruction.

Another seasonal activity at Vantage is our annual advisory banquet and committee meetings. This event was held last week, and area employers, former students, and fellow teachers met in many training areas. Vantage values the input received at this meeting--curriculum and equipment, and teaching methods and resources are areas where we must have current information. Because we are an entry-level job training school, it will always be important that we meet the needs of employers. We must teach current aspects of each trade and know the expectations our students have to meet in their career fields. Through advisory committees, we also build relationships.

Our teachers are the most important link in this area. A successful advisory committee is built by a teacher who is connected with area employers continuously. A good meeting focuses on gaining insight from the employers and colleagues present, reviewing curriculum issues, and sharing current student accomplishments and community connections. To keep current, at least one new member should rotate into the group, annually to ensure a diverse perspective.

Vantage has some great advisory committees, which help convey our school's image of teaching quality workforce skills. We also have some work to do to bolster some committees and involve new employers. If you are interested in serving on an advisory committee, contact Vantage and find out how you can help. We are willing to change our "routine" for this important event to better accommodate employers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vantage at the county fair!

August 28, 2013--It's my favorite time of year again--the approach to autumn starts with the county fair in Van Wert. Vantage participates annually with a booth and school information. The most popular brochures remain our Adult Education course listings. I enjoy helping visitors learn who to contact and what may be viable program options for them to consider. (I also LOVE our location, right next to Carolyn Pruden's cake decorating booth)!

In case you are wondering, no, I don't review what I wrote the year before at this time. But if I did, it wouldn't surprise me to see that I wrote about the fair last year too! My family was a 4-H family and my siblings and I practically lived at the Defiance county fair. I recently had the privilege of visiting Hicksville for the Defiance county fair with my kids and grandson just last week. The evening went by way too fast!

Looks like I will be at the fair in less than 2 hours--I had better wrap up and make Today Matter!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Back to School Time!

August 19--Back to School!

We're all back! After taking a summer hiatus from blogging, I will continue my weekly (and perhaps, daily) blog about Vantage Career Center. Today our staff returned for the annual teacher work day, followed by our new junior class coming tomorrow for the first day of school. Seniors come to Vantage again on Wednesday, and our year will be in full swing.

As a district, we look forward to the release of our new CTE district report card later this week. It will provide information for us to target and strategize improvement. It also tells us what we do well--and I am pleased to say that we are doing a lot of things right. The credit belongs to our staff who provide individual attention and in general, care about students! Even though our physical footprint is much bigger than Vantage has been in the past, we strive for--and have maintained--a small school atmosphere. It is my belief that daily connections with students, from all staff, help students feel at home here and find their strengths.

During this first week of school, I would like to thank the parents in our community for supporting Vantage by sending us your students--we pledge to do the best job possible in educating your teenager.

Looking forward to the 2013-14 school year! Today Matters, more than ever.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Student Interact Club--Haiti Project

I am pleased to blog that our 2013 Haiti team returned safely and accomplished much good work in the past week. The Vantage Student Interact Club, affiliated with the Van Wert Rotary Club, sponsors a carpentry program in the mountain village of Borde, Haiti. Our students raise funds throughout each school year to pay the carpentry teacher's salary ($100 per month) and furnish supplies and hand tools for the students. The furniture made by the carpentry program is sold in Cap Haitien, Haiti, and the funds are returned to the customer service account to buy more supplies.

Social studies teacher Peg Bollenbacher, our club's advisor, has traveled to Haiti annually for 10 years. She will retire this year, and is turning over the Interact Club to science teacher Matthew Miller. Ms. Bollenbacher will continue to return to Haiti annually on her own, as she has a deep bond with the local Haitians involved in our project. This was my first trip to Haiti, as it was for Mr. Miller also. Seeing the carpentry school and surrounding facilities, which include another school building for multiple grade levels, a church, and a small kitchen building and small administration building, was beneficial. We can better target our resources to meet their needs, one of which is some form of power and clean water. I hope to succeed in completing a green structure, or Earthship, (google Earthship Haiti) to supply solar power and sanitized water to some degree.

The addition of any power at all will allow our Haitian students to use some power tools vs. strictly hand tools, and also have better lighting in the classroom/workshop. The cinder block walls include open spaces for "windows" to allow air and light into the building. That is the only light source. All of the buildings are built in this manner, including the church, which again, has absolutely no power. Our solar project could also be routed to the church or the grade school as well to improve learning conditions.

As I expected prior to going to Haiti, words cannot express what I saw and experienced during the seven days I was there. I have memories for a lifetime, a lot of photos of the culture and people, and a renewed commitment to our Interact Club's project in Haiti. In future blogs, I will post photos taken while in Haiti. Here is one of my favorites: this small cooking fire area feeds over 120 school children. Only a wooden table and a pile of starter timber are in this small building which we call our "kitchen". There is obviously no power and the structure is lit by the holes in the cinder block wall.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preparing for trip to Haiti

April 2, 2013

The position of superintendent has provided me with several opportunities and challenges over the years. An opportunity I will talk about today is the chance to see the small carpentry program which Vantage Career Center operates in the mountain village of Bordes, Haiti. Bordes is near Cap Haitien, on the northern coast. Our Interact program, which is a student club, and affiliate of the local Rotary club, has been active for several years. Its main project is raising funds and supporting the carpentry program in Bordes. Local Haitiens travel long distances to attend our small school, where they learn basic carpentry skills to help them provide a way to support their families.

I will visit the program and meet several of the local people who are integral to our efforts. Social Studies teacher Peg Bollenbacher has traveled there annually for the past 10 years, and will travel with first-time attendee Matt Miller and I. Matt is a science teacher at Vantage, and is really looking forward to the trip. It will be both his and my first experience there. We hope to confirm the need for a green shelter to be built in the next year, which would house medical care and free clinic services when visitors come to assist the people of the Cap Haitien area. The green structure uses solar power to heat as needed, and sanitize water. The entire structure is really a great science lesson in itself! More later in future blogs.

Upon return, I hope to engage several other Ohio Rotary clubs to assist our project by contributing funds toward this purpose. Rotary grants may be possible from the Rotary International site and the District club, which will aid, and probably expand, our project's scope. Ten clubs have given me their contact information already. It would be wonderful to provide a few of these structures in the areas which desperately need clean water and safe shelter for medical services.Hopefully a task force of people from these clubs will travel with us later on to construct the green structures.

We hope to attend a local Rotary meeting in Cap Haitien while there next week. Regardless of the outcome of the service project, I will return having met my primary goal, which is to see our students' work over the years, and meet the local people who have been involved with our carpentry program regularly. Words cannot describe the impact which I am certain to experience in Haiti, but I will try my best to do so in a blog or two after April 15. Today Matters, more than ever. Make your day a worthwhile one.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snow, snow, snow. . .

March 25 looks a lot like January 25 today. School is closed, using the last of our five calamity days for the year. I hope we don't get hit with a lot of dense fog this spring, or Vantage will be making up days in a year already longer due to the late start last fall, required by the construction project.

I know I haven't blogged in awhile, but the pace of my office has not let up following construction and the Grand Open House event. Plans are being coordinated to cut in the access drive for the solar array, for which construction will start shortly after April 1. The snow and moisture is going to hold sitework up a bit.

Other projects I am working on are getting ready for the April Board meeting and assisting with plans for the April 4 All Boards Annual Dinner, which follows the April Board meeting. News regarding the state budget and other legislation which may affect the Career Center also requires my attention, especially as legislation moves quickly in the Kasich administration. If educators don't provide feedback, we lose control and influence while others set our agendas. More later on legislation and the state budget!

As usual, administrivia is a constant in our office, and while a quiet day like today allows me to catch up a bit, there is always something that takes the place of the items I strike off my list. Yes, I am a list maker! My lists are usually to remind me of events to attend, and meetings to go to within the community. At the top of my list for this week is the Vantage FFA annual banquet. The students and instructor Mike Miller put on a great program, which is well-attended by parents and students. Also on my list is the end of Lent--I have been officially "chocolate and dessert" free since Lent began. I am into the home stretch, feeling pretty successful since I haven't even had hot chocolate or a cookie. And cookies are my favorite food! Look out after Easter--I have been hoarding a lot of Christmas chocolate. Until next time. . .Today Matters.

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's all over . . .

Were you there? Vantage Career Center hosted its Grand Open House to celebrate the end of our 18-month construction project. Tonight was also our annual sophomore open house where prospective students and their parents and families visit our school to decide if they will become a Vantage student in the fall.

So many people were here tonight! I heard alumni from years past remarking about how the school had changed, and saw staff engaged in conversations with visitors representing so many different connections to Vantage. Several of our partners in the community were here tonight--Chamber of Commerce Director Susan Munroe, First Financial Bank's Denise Frey, Eric Hurless from Stahl, Stoller, and Meyer Insurance, Bill and Shirley Straley of Straley Realty, County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger, Phil and Robin Farris of P & R Medical, and Stan and Barb Searing, and Mike Winans, all the way from Paulding . . .WOW!

We are so thrilled that so many people came out to see us tonight! Vantage is a wonderful opportunity for workforce training. Our staff makes it a great place for kids, and a terrific place to work. If you haven't experienced Vantage in some fashion--an adult class in cooking or basket weaving, or computer course, or if you don't know someone who has been a student at Vantage, you really should come out and see what we have to offer.

P.S.  if you weren't here tonight, you missed the great refreshments by Baked to Perfection in Delphos! They did a fantastic job! (WHY did I give up cookies and sweets for Lent. . .ugggghhhh!)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oh, what a night. . .

. . . and what a week it has been! Tonight I was honored to accept the Golden Shovel Award on behalf of Vantage Career Center at the annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner. It was extra special because several of the people who have worked hard throughout our construction project were there with me. Vantage had a full table: Board President Lonnie Nedderman and Board members Kim Brandt, Linda Owens, and our administrative team-- Director Bob Vennekotter, Adult Ed Director Pete Prichard,  Supervisors Ted Verhoff, Ben Winans, and Mary Ann Hall, and Public Relations Coordinator MaryJo Wilhelm.

This week has been hectic, mostly due to the timing of the CTE testimony we were asked to give on Tuesday afternoon at Apollo Career Center in Lima. Governor Kasich's joint Workforce Committee listened to our testimony, which included two area employers, FWT and Miller Precision Manufacturing, Vantage precision machining instructor Larry Ray, and myself. Fielding the questions asked afterward by the legislators was a rare opportunity. I will say that it went well, and I was grateful to several staff members and our students who could attend and listen to the testimony. It felt good, knowing they were there with me.

Our two students who attended, Isaac and Caleb, both from Mr. Ray's Precision Machining program, were introduced to the crowd during Larry's testimony. They were beaming from ear to ear! Isaac will attend Sinclair Community College and work in Dayton for a company who will help pay for his college education. Caleb won first place in the Ohio SkillsUSA milling and turning contest and will go on to state competition in April. We are so proud of both of them! And we have many more students like Caleb and Isaac, who are why we come to work every day--it just makes sense to be a career technical educator and help kids find their way into solid occupations.

Tuesday's events weren't over though after the testimony, because Representative Lynn Wachtmann offered us tickets to the State of the State address! It really was exciting to be in the crowd, hearing "live" what progress Ohio has made and what the Governor's goals are for the year ahead. All in all, "oh what a night" pretty much sums up this whole week! But we have a great night coming up yet--Grand Open House is on Monday, Feb. 25. Try to attend the ceremony at 5 p.m. in the commons, and then take a long tour around our new school ! Light refreshments will be available. Come out and help us celebrate our new school! Afterward, maybe you, too, will be saying, "Oh, what a night"!

Monday, February 18, 2013

A little encouragement. . .

A little encouragement goes a long way. MaryJo Wilhelm, public relations coordinator, emailed earlier to tell me "good job" on blogging so frequently this year. I hesitated on typing "frequently" but I am doing much better than last year. And with her positive reinforcement still ringing in my ears, I am blogging twice in 24 hours!

We just linked this blog to our Vantage FaceBook page (yep, we have one!) and it has worked out well for us. Hopefully my blog will be read by more people, alumni, and community members alike, as well as our staff. It is a great way for people to know "the latest" happenings concerning Vantage.

I am looking forward to testimony tomorrow for the Governor's Workforce Committee. I spent yesterday, late last night, early this a.m., and most of the office hours today, compiling and proofing the four testimonials we will present tomorrow. Apollo Career Center, 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. is the place to be on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Ten senators and 15 House of Representatives who make up this joint committee will hear what Vantage, Apollo, and several of our employers are doing to impact a trained workforce.

Just reading the testimonials makes me feel great that 1) I work for Vantage Career Center, and 2) that I work as a career-technical administrator. Period.  CTE is where it's at-- how can you not love helping students of all ages learn skills to find meaningful work?

Come out and see what we do in our completely renovated and expanded school! Feb. 25, 5 - 8 p.m. THAT's where you should be next Monday! Set your GPS or navigation system to 818 N. Franklin St., Van Wert, OH 45891!  (Just a little encouragement. . . )

Sunday, February 17, 2013

And the heat is on. . .

Yes, I mean that! It's Sunday at 5 p.m. and I just finished all the work I can do here. The network is down, so I cannot access my doc pass files. But the heat IS on, which I wasn't expecting, since we set the new HVAC system to a conservative mode on the weekends when the building is empty.

Today I also had a scholarship meeting with the Marilyn Brandt family. She and daughter Kim, chief counsel for health care reform for the Senate in Washington, D.C., enjoyed a tour of our new school and then finalized details for the adult education scholarship. The $1000 Robert Brandt Scholarship for the high school was established almost three years ago, and plans are now set to begin an annual $1000 adult education scholarship in 2014. Vantage appreciates the Brandt family's priorirty to increase the scholarship funds shared with Vantage students of all ages. The funds are managed by the Paulding County Area Foundation.

The other reason I am in the office on a Sunday, is to finish writing my testimony for Governor Kasich's joint Workforce Committee. I have been asked to testify, as well as arrange for testimony, from a few area employers. Testimony will include instructor Larry Ray, Precision Machining, Jared Orzolek, FWT, and Jim Miller, Miller Precision Manufacturing, Inc. We will address the Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. at Apollo Career Center in Lima. Following testimony, a former student, Trent Metzger, now a welder and quality control inspector at FWT in Hicksville, and a few current Vantage students, will speak with Ohio's Senators and House Representatives informally over dessert.
Instructor Mike Miller, Ag Mechanics, and Vantage alumnus also, will attend and answer questions afterward as well. I wish I could have included so many people, however, both Vantage and Apollo will only be represented by 10 people between the two institutions.

I am looking forward to testifying to this particular Committee, because it is Vantage's chance to relay good news and solid practices and performance data to our state legislature. Ten senators and 15 representatives, as well as staffers, will be present. Following the testimony, I will attend the Governor's State of the State address at the Lima Civic Center. Accompanying me will be Treasurer Lori Davis and Adult Education Director Pete Prichard. Our thanks go out to House Rep Lynn Wachtmann for notifying me of the opportunity to testify and for lining us up with three tickets to the Governor's address.

Thus, I am in on a Sunday, because the building is a bit too noisy and busy to draft testimony on a normal school day! Finished the testimony but can't access my photos of students working in manfacturing labs, which I need to complete it. So "the heat is on" as I will be on pins and needles until tomorrow, when I hope the network is connected again. I wanted to finish it today, so I could do other work tomorrow and time my testimony. But tomorrow is another day, and Today Matters. . .I made the most of it that I could today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Who DOESN'T like "Busy"?

Lots of answers come to mind for that question! But I seem to thrive on "Busy" and this week's schedule proves it. Wednesday is full with one thing after another--(luckily it doesn't start at 7 a.m.). It will be a diverse day, which includes my leading a Vantage alumnus, Aaron Burns and a group of Chinese visitors through Vantage. Aaron's father shared his success story with me a few years ago--Aaron studied in one of our business programs, Interactive Media, I believe, and then went on to work in the graphic arts field for Old Navy, and other companies, using his skills learned at Vantage. His work for some of these large companies landed him in China, where he has lived for a number of years. I will be happy to meet Aaron for the first time tomorrow!

Later in the day is the staff birthday celebration for a few minutes after school, but it is always a chance to sit down and chat with staff. I will have to leave that event by a few minutes after 3 p.m., to attend our Van Wert Area Schools Insurance Group meeting. That will take until 5:30 p.m. probably, and then I have an appointment at 6 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. Board meeting for the Wassenberg Art Center. I particularly enjoy serving on this Board, and am interested in its renovation of the Armory, for the purpose of relocating the Wassenberg, which has outgrown its original building.

In between appointments and meetings, I am working on securing testimony from area employers, and writing my own, in preparation for the the Governor's Workforce committee, who is meeting in Lima on Feb. 19. I have collected some excellent photos of our students working in their labs, and also of some adult training for area employers, which is vital. I intend to show the pictures and describe briefly what Vantage Career Center means to our students and the community.

As usual, I will make "today matter", as there isn't enough time to get everything done, if I put it off until tomorrow!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Two blogs in one week!

What's up with that? OK, it's 6:28 p.m., and I am still in the office. Education is a people business and the superintendent's position requires access and visibility. Paperwork and "administrivia" tends to get done after the staff goes home, and tonight affords me the opportunity for a short time yet, to write a blog.
I am looking forward to seeing Big River tonight at the Civic Theatre, as several friends are in the cast, and I always enjoy its community threatre productions. Knowing that I have to get there in time, may help me write a short blog! If I try really hard, I may also get to the grocery between leaving here and going to the show.

What's on my mind? Getting ready for our Grand Open House and lining up testimony for the joint committee of Ohio's House and Senate members who are on the new Workforce committee. Vantage and Apollo Career Centers have been asked to give testimony focused on the good things happening in the manufacturing industry as a result of our workforce training for high school and adult students. This is a rare opportunity, but one that has significant potential for Ohio's career technical educators in career centers.

But back to the Grand Open House--our Board of Education's 11 members all will attend, as well as our key construction partners, and the Ohio School Facilities Commission. Remarks have to be written next week, and an interview done with Ed at the Times Bulletin. WLIO has asked me to do the Noon Edition show on Feb. 14, and I am looking forward to that event. Our committee continues to put all the pieces in place, and without them, none of this would be happening. Along with the planning, all of us have our regular "day job" to do--so next week I will be at Rotary, and the county schools' insurance group quarterly meeting, and conduct a tour for a group of visiting Chinese students who will be accompanied by Aaron Burns, a Vantage alumni, who has lived in China and is a successful business man and graphic designer.
Our department is also helping to host this wing's open house after school on the 14th, so my creative side said "bake heart-shaped cut-out cookies for the staff to enjoy". (There goes my weekend. . .but it will be fun and I want to contribute something homemade for our staff). They work hard, and I get so little time to spend with them, as our jobs get in the way!

It's 6:45 p.m. and I know I should leave. I got a lot accomplished, and once again night custodian Dick Fry came through to clean and said, "you're still here" and I gave my usual reply, "I am leaving--I won't be here long!" That was an hour ago. Why do I stay? I really enjoy this job and our new school. My work helps our district move forward. Today Matters--there's no sense waiting til tomorrow or Monday.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sophomore Visitation Day!

What a great day! Have I said that before, when I write about special events at Vantage? Well, it WAS a great day. I walked around to several classrooms this morning and offered thanks and "good luck today" to our student helpers and teachers, who make the day successful. Cosmetology students invited me to their fashion show event, where visiting sophomores witness fun fashions and examples of the students' work on hair and makeup of the models. If this is any indicator of success, a parent and visiting sophomore showed up in our office after school today, asking how to apply for the Cosmetology program for next year! (BTW--We were glad to help them!)

Plans are moving along nicely for the Grand Open House. . .lots of details and what a great committee of staff who are delving into the necessary planning. As superintendent, I am extremely lucky, and thankful, for a wonderful staff. We all want to put our best foot forward that night. (February 25, 5 to 8 p.m.!) Staff will be in their labs by 5 p.m. to greet guests and answer questions about their workforce training program. A brief ceremony, will take place at 5 p.m. in the student commons area. The ceremony will be videotaped for staff on duty in classrooms to enjoy later.

Staff have been getting oriented to the new building by attending a mini-open house in strategic locations which cause them to leave their daily surroundings and venture further away to see where their peers are spending their days teaching and learning. Refreshments abound at these functions and the fellowship seems to be enjoyed by all! The district office where I am housed, and the business and health labs will host next week's mini-open house after school on Feb. 14.

It has been another busy week--but a lot of closure was achieved. We finalized the easement area for the solar array, which was the last missing piece. A lengthy revenue sharing agreement for blended workforce training between Vantage and Northwest State Community College was finalized, creating what may be an excellent model for other institutions to follow.

Nothing has slowed down much since the end of construction, since we are wrapping up "open items" yet, and still seeing punch list completion. Evidence of the hectic pace is the remaining boxes I have yet to unpack in my new office. Evenings have prevented me from doing so, because I cannot turn down attending several committee meetings and Board of Directors meetings for which I serve. One particularly enjoyable activity was judging the Van Wert Economic Development's "Small Business Challenge" last night, along with Jim Miller, President of Miller Precision Manufacturing, and Jared Ebbing, Mercer County Economic Development Director. We determined a winner, and awards will be presented Thursday evening at 5 p.m. in the Van Wert City Council room.

Thursday will be a LOOONNNNGGGG day, as it starts at 7 a.m. for me with an appointment off site, and then concludes around 9 p.m. when the Vantage Board of Education meeting adjourns. It is an exciting time to be a career-technical educator--more on that next time. . .

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Step Into Your Future at Vantage CC!

What a terrific morning! Today Vantage is again hosting 40 area junior high girls for our annual "Step Into Your Future" program. These girls will experience hands-on training in Network Systems, Welding, Precision Machining, and Construction trades. Three of our trades instructors are teaching the girls how to use the trade's equipment safely and actually make something today to take home. I could have stayed with each group all day, as it was so exciting to see these young ladies actively engaged with what they were being taught. Our teachers, past alumni, staff, and teacher aides who came in to help today are doing a terrific job!

In keeping with the informal writing, "what have I been doing lately?" seems to work! I returned from a one-week vacation in Florida, where I enjoyed weather in the 80's, and walked at least 8 to 10 miles daily on the beach. While vacation was great, I am glad to be back in the school building, as I had to spend three days in Columbus during my first week back, to meet with Ohio's legislators and carry the message of career and technical education. This was time well-spent, and our directors, Pete Prichard and Bob Vennekotter, also noted that this year's visits were perhaps the best ever.

Why do I say that? The nation, and Ohio, know there is a skills gap in our workforce. CTE continues to try to fill that gap. The Governor's office has set up a system to better integrate industry with education, so that all stakeholders know and communicate their projected skill needs to institutions who can provide training. It is a wonderful time to work in CTE, as I have never seen such awareness of CTE, and recognition of the potential impact we can have on our workforce from our state legislature and federal government. This year marks my 23d year in CTE, and as a business teacher for nine years prior to this, I know the value of teaching workplace skills to high school students. It just makes sense.

The superintendent's position allows me to fully develop Vantage Career Center in both high school and adult workforce training. When I see the results of displaced workers who now have a new career, and young junior high girls who learn not to fear the "foreign" tools of the trades they chose to learn about today, I am encouraged again, that career-technical education can, and does, fill a vital role in our community.

See what Vantage can do for you! Come to the Grand Open House on Feb. 25, 5 - 8 p.m., and see our new school!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013

Why am I blogging at 10:30 p.m.? Tomorrow I have an early start to a busy half day at Vantage before I am supposed to start a week of vacation! Yes, the blogging guilt bug struck, and I knew I couldn't leave with a clear conscience unless I blogged before leaving Van Wert for a warmer climate. Being the scheduled person I am, I also know that I will have zero time tomorrow for blogging. I will be lucky to get out of the office on time, but I will go public here and state that is my goal!

In my last blog, I mentioned writing more informally in 2013. A few good comments have been received since that blog, so I had better live up to my informal writing intent.

Where to start? I need to be up at 5 a.m. to be at Vantage greeting guests at 7:30 a.m. for the Van Wert Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting, which Vantage is hosting tomorrow in our new Community Room. So an easy topic is what did I do today? It was a pretty productive day! Here's the play by play:
8:07 a.m. arrived at the office, gulping the last of my tea in the car as I parked, (yes, I drive one-handed), and draining my daily protein shake (chocolate) as soon as I got into my office. Walked the halls before school started, greeting students and staff who I passed, and then watched students head for classes at the last bell.
Next, I met with our Director, Bob Vennekotter to verify the square footage of several classrooms and training spaces in preparation for a 1:00 p.m. meeting with an educational partner who is interested in utilizing some of our newly renovated space at Vantage.
I spent the next two hours at my desk, compiling my notes for the 1 p.m . meeting, while reviewing strategy for the meeting with our Adult Ed Director, Pete Prichard. In between, the office phone rang, my cell phone rang with an important call regarding our solar array plans, and my administrative assistant, Vicki Smith, brought miscellaneous "to do" items and helped me find some electronic files.
11:30 a.m. rolled around before I knew it, and I managed to make it to lunch with staff in the commons, being fortunate enough to sit at a table with goodies for Lori Allen's birthday today! Yes, I turned down the brownies, as I didn't want to be on "sugar overload" for my 1 p.m. meeting!
After lunch I played "beat the clock" and entered several upcoming professional leave dates and all the detail that has to go with each request into the HR Kiosk, which we use to electronically process all leave requests and absences.
The 1 p.m. meeting went great, and another 3 p.m. meeting followed just minutes later. This one was really good, and I think all who attended today's Labor Management Committee meeting would agree. While this meeting ran over a bit, I stayed for some small talk afterward with the administrative team, Ben and Bob and Ted, before leaving for Paulding for the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours! Luckily I didn't have to be there at 4:30 as I had planned, but I enjoyed an hour of great conversation and food at Arandas Mexican Grill on N. Williams St. from 5 to 6 pm.
The event was sponsored by Werlor, Inc., located in Defiance. Werlor is a waste management and recycling firm who has been in business for years. I was lucky enough to win one of the giveaway T-shirts, which says boldly on the back: "Let's Talk Trash!" (I am not sure where I can wear it in the community, but it did go into my suitcase tonight to take on my vacation!)
So my day concluded with packing and paying bills and blogging--and my laptop says it's 11 p.m. and that means "lights out" finally for me! What a day--but a lot of good things happened today. I hope tomorrow is just as good.