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Monday, 27 February 2017 08:00

CTF partnership with MHC working out well for students

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Melissa Heidinger, who teaches the CTF Program at Parkside School in Redcliff, shows some of the projects created by students. Two students stand in the background, Caitlin Watson, in Grade 8 and Clayton Lehr, in Grade 9. Melissa Heidinger, who teaches the CTF Program at Parkside School in Redcliff, shows some of the projects created by students. Two students stand in the background, Caitlin Watson, in Grade 8 and Clayton Lehr, in Grade 9. Photo by Rose Sanchez

A Career and Technologies Foundation (CTF) partnership between Prairie Rose School Division and the Medicine Hat College is going so well, it will likely be expanded in the next school year.

Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) board trustees heard more about the program and how well it is working at the Feb. 15 regular meeting.
“It’s been a really great partnership,” said Dennis Beaudoin, dean of trades and technology at Medicine Hat College (MHC).
Junior-high students from Parkside School can choose to take an option of plumbing or carpentry as part of the CTF program. Parkside teacher Melissa Heidinger, then works with her students to teach the program by using the facilities, resources and instructors at MHC.
Heidinger has always been interested in the trades, so when she applied for a teaching position at Parkside and learned part of her role would be to lead the CTF program, she was pleased.
The partnership between Parkside and MHC has been in existence for about four years.
“I jumped all over it. It’s a fantastic learning experience. Having these students grow and learn in this course has been phenomenal,” she said.
“The biggest thing — a lot of kids are maybe not as academically-inclined. They struggle in the classroom, but this is where they thrive.”
Heidinger also likes she can make a connection with the students who take the CTF program, in a different way than just in a regular classroom setting.
She too has learned a lot from teaching the program. When students arrive at the college for their class, MHC instructors will teach them something new each time, so they are expanding on their knowledge of that trade.
“For me, it’s been a learning experience,” adds Heidinger. “I couldn’t do it without the collaboration with the instructors.”
Those instructors will take Heidinger through how to build each project step by step, at a separate time before the students arrive.
“So that way when the students come to me and ask what’s the next step, I can tell them and go through and build it with them, which is really valuable for me as a teacher.”
Students Clayton Lehr, in Grade 9, and Caitlin Watson, in Grade 8, also attended the meeting to answer trustees’ questions.
Lehr enjoyed the plumbing option so much, he created his own project which was the design and building of a working boot wash he can use on his parent’s ranch.
He did the planning and execution of the project with help from his instructors.
Parkside Acting Principal Boyd Craven said the school has received a lot of positive press about the program and partnership with the college.
“Four years later, we’re still working on it (the program), but the direction we’ve gone has been exciting,” he added.
Heidinger said for her, she knows the program is valuable because of the number of students who want to take it more than one time.
Beaudoin said from the college’s perspective, they also see the partnership as a success and he had only positive comments.
“We’re really fortunate in having the school division come to the college,” he said. “These are our future students. If we can help these students so they don’t feel like (MHC) is as scary a place, (then that’s helped everyone).”
Beaudoin says he sees students who are excited to try to change the projects they are working on to make them more their own, as well as instructors at the college who are enthused about finding new projects for students to complete in the various trades.
“We get such great support from you guys to deliver a program like this,” he added.
“We’re doing plumbing and carpentry. We would like to introduce electrical and welding.”
PRSD officials expressed support for the idea of expansion of the trades offered to students.
“From my perspective, the (expanding) out to a couple of other areas is a natural progression of this partnership,” said Superintendent Brian Andjelic.
Trustees were also enthusiastic about the program after hearing about its success. Graeme Dennis said introducing the option of trades as a career for students early in life is critical to the future of the province. Arnold Frank commended college officials for supporting the program.
“Allowing our students to go into the college — it’s a big shift from where it used to be,” he added.
Other Prairie Rose schools have also started to take advantage of CTF options offered through MHC including Jenner and Schuler. Students from the Redcliff Mennonite Alternative Program will likely take part in the near future.
There are two options available to the school division in delivering the CTF program with MHC, ranging in price from $200 per day up to $365 per day. Those options provide for students to be at the college one day a week, for two hours at a time, over 10 weeks.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor