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BFA joins forces with the Tech Center

Mercury Staff

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BFA Students have the opportunity to enroll in a variety of programs to learn career skills for their future through the Northwest Technical Center. Most of these programs don’t have graduation requirements built in to them, but instead offer extra credit for students.

However, integrated programs, unlike other Tech Center programs, provide Tech Center students with required credit courses like English. BFA English teacher, Kieran Kivlehan runs these integrated English courses.

“I select literature and writing content assignments that directly relate to the skills or content of that Tech Center class,” Kivlehan said.

Kivlehan has taught at BFA since 2010. In his first two years of teaching at BFA, he taught freshman classes, but increasing Tech Center involvement led him to switch to working full time as a Tech Center English teacher. Next year, he will be returning to BFA proper to teach a junior English class in addition to his Tech Center work.

Tech Center programs take up two class periods, making it harder to work both required classes and Tech Center courses into the schedule. Integrated programs present a solution where students can take Tech Center career courses while working toward their graduation requirements in the same period.

“I took Mrs. Hebert’s AP language class as a junior, it was more focused on essay writing which is important but this integrated program that I’m in focuses more on the medical career aspects,” Nya Aucoin (‘18) said.

Aucoin is studying to be a nurse and chose to take the medical program at the Tech Center which Kivlehan is a part of. Aucoin has been in the program for 2 years.

Students can also look forward to a new Tech Center program, Outdoor Technology.

“The idea came from wanting to engage students that attend BFA in their high school experience because one of the things that we know is that people in Franklin County love the outdoors. So the program that we have is called an exploratory pre-technology program that allows students to explore several options for careers and post secondary plans. The Department of
Labor has identified four priority sectors that we will need workers in the next 10 years which is the healthcare industry, hospitality industry, advanced manufacturing and engineering, and green technologies. So Mr. HP’s (Jacob Holzberg-Pill) job is to expose the students in the program to these four sectors,” Leeann Wright, Director of Northwest Tech Center said.

Wright has been director of the Tech Center for six years. While she is looking forward to the coming year with the start of this program, there are still a lot of details that are currently being worked out.

“We are currently working on integrating math. We haven’t identified the math proficiencies or graduation requirements exactly, we will be planning those out next year,” Wright said.

While the integrated English courses are open to all, integrated math is only open to freshmen and sophomores.

“The integrated English is people who are just in the Tech Center and this new one is people that go to BFA. This program is only for 9th and 10th graders because we don’t have 9th and 10th graders in our regular programming,” Wright said.

Just like the integrated English program, this new integrated math program will have help from BFA staff, like Peter Symula who teaches design technology.

“He will be using his classroom for a design lab which will line up with the Tech Center so that Mr. HP and the math teacher can use him as a resource to work on the engineering sector,” Wright said.

Students who take a integrated program at the Tech Center get all of the same benefits as a traditional English or math class.

However, the courses are not identical. The way students are presented with the material and the way they are graded varies from standard to integrated class.

“We don’t get rubrics like the regular classes at BFA, so that makes it really tough to know and understand what Mr. HP’s looking for. His grading is
very confusing to me because he starts you out with a ‘C’ no matter what and he wants you to build upon what you have done and improve it,” Aucoin said.

This is the standard practice for proficiency-based learning and grading.

In the future, students and teachers hope that this new update to the Tech Center and BFA will make it easier for students to have a better high school experience by studying their carer of interest while at the same time meeting graduation requirements.

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