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District 230 supports training for trade schools

The District 230 administration is taking steps to ensure that students planning to go to trade schools rather than college are receiving the educational background necessary to succeed when they leave high school.

Toward that end, officials from the district that includes Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew high schools hosted the S4 Summit focused on Career and Technical Education​ on March 23 in the District 230 Administrative Building. The event turned out to be a great success, according to members of the school board and Superintendent James Gay, who discussed it during the monthly board meeting held last Thursday at Stagg High School in Palos Hills.

Gay said 50 people attended the gathering, including 22 trade and manufacturing representatives, as well as 28 district representatives such as teachers, division chairs, principals, school board members and district administrators.

There were six tables of participants, with a teacher, division chair and school board member, and four or five industry leaders at each one. District administrators and principals moved from table to table to get an idea about what was being discussed by each group.​

“We had great conversations with these skilled professionals who helped us see what sort of classes our students need to be successful,” said Gay. “Our goal is to prepare our students for whatever career path they choose.”

“We had a large representation from the skilled tradespeople. I detected a lot of genuine enthusiasm from those who attended,” said Rick Nogal, board president. “I hope we follow-up on this and perhaps have a jobs fair.”

“People at my table were very excited about the possibilities this summit could bring about,” said board member Kate Murphy-Peterson.

“As we go further with this, formulating an educational path for students to get into these trade schools, the professional can help us a lot,” said board member Tony Serratore. “These trades involve a lot of basic math, and the students will often have to be able to multiply and divide numbers quickly without a calculator.”

Bob Hughes, director of facilities for District 230, noted at the meeting that the electrical contractor in charge of the LaGrange Road improvements “is a very proud Sandburg graduate, and he attributes (his job success) to our shop classes.

“And the LaGrange Road contract has guaranteed him lifetime employment,” said Nogal, joking about the length of time the roadway has been under construction.

It was noted at the meeting that the LaGrange Road work is finally nearing completion, with some of the last work under way along the median landscaping and other work being done in front of Sandburg High School at 131st and LaGrange,

 Gay said that this was the first S4 Summit to focus on Career and Technical Education. Other summits have centered on establishing the S4 Touchstone to guide the district’s work, and connecting with professionals in other career interest areas, higher education, and social and emotional supports in the community.

“We are analyzing the feedback from the S4 Summit now,” said Gay at the conclusion of the meeting. “We anticipate that a continuation of the meeting will be held this summer to further develop relationships with the industry leaders and to look more closely at the preparation path as students look to enter the trades. District 230 has been exploring the expansion of job shadowing and internship opportunities across career interests. We strongly believe that partnerships with the trades will fill a need and open career paths for students who are interested.”

Asked if more trades-related classes may be offered in district schools, Gay said, “We are using the feedback from this meeting as well as input received through a comprehensive review of Career and Technical Education programming that has been taking place throughout the past year to inform future direction.

​“District participants got a great deal of information from the industry leaders related to the skills necessary to be successful in the trades,” added Gay. “They talked about academic skills including math and communication, as well as soft skills like time management, professionalism and work ethic. There were also discussions about the specific technical skills that are important as graduates transition from high school to the trades. We received valuable information that will help us prepare students.

“Another great outcome of the S4 Summit is building relationships that will continue to benefit our students. Many of the industry leaders have expressed willingness to come into the schools to talk with students about trade-career options,” Gay continued.

In addition to talking about possible field trips and shadowing opportunities that will allow students to see what the work is really like, Gay said others provided information about summer trades programs that will give students experience.

“Overall, it was an incredibly productive summit that will assist us in preparing students for their future,” said Gay.

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