Today Matters, Vantage Superintendent Blog



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. . .