Opinion | Buhler and school board: Summit schools building skills for the future | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Buhler and school board: Summit schools building skills for the future

Kerry Buhler and Summit School Board
Guest column

The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Hands carefully tuning and mounting ski and snowboard equipment. The bright light of a plasma cutter carving through stainless steel. The sights and smells of a typical day on main street snow country? No. These are the sights and smells in our high school classrooms where students are busy creating culinary delights, or learning trade skills specific to ski country, and even welding furniture of their own design. As a school district, we are nearly as excited as the students about these offerings, and the doors these options will swing open.

Summit School District delivers student-centered instruction in every classroom, every day. Most importantly, we're meeting students where they're at, opening doors to experiences with real-world curriculum that prepare students for the jobs of the future. For those of us who may have graduated a decade (or a few) ago, many of these offerings are updated versions of vocational and technical training geared toward career readiness for students as they exit high-school. While Career and Technical Education may be a new acronym, the value of experiential learning bridges the decades. These classes can offer openings to immediate job placement, or a springboard to further education or licensure.

District leaders have fully embraced this charge. At Summit High School, we have created specific graduation pathways to align with state-identified models for certain careers, called "Career Clusters," which include programs in business and marketing, hospitality, health sciences, criminal justice and public safety, STEM, design and information technology, and the skilled trades like welding, ski tech, and architectural design. We're also excited to announce that Summit High School will be offering a bicycle tech course in January 2019 — one of the first in the state! At Snowy Peaks High School, we continue to provide experiential learning experiences that expose students to real-world careers and improve their postsecondary workforce readiness.

Like much innovation in education, strong partnerships are the key to success. Many of the high school classes are delivered in partnership with one of our most valued local institutions, Colorado Mountain College. All students have an opportunity to get a significant jump start on college credits by taking these concurrent enrollment classes through CMC and to save on college expenses when they leave Summit with their high school diploma.

Our ability to deliver hands on learning experiences would not occur without the strong support of local businesses and industry leaders. Our schools are grateful to all of the local organizations and volunteers who help support these programs and the transformation of our buildings into 21st century learning environments. Thank you for believing in our schools and seeing the potential in Summit students. The investment in our kids does not stop there. Teachers too have stepped up their game, obtaining licenses and high level credentials in everything from welding to literature, ensuring students receive both quality instruction and college credit. Our district will continue to strive to maximize educational opportunities for our students.

We are committed to pursuing new and innovative learning experiences for our classrooms that excite and prepare our students for 21st century jobs and careers. We take the responsibility of educating our future workforce seriously. Making school real and relevant and connecting students to their interests and passions is what our Career and Technical Education program does every day.

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Are you a local business, non-profit or professional interested in providing internships opportunities for our eager learners? Are you interested in partnering with Summit School District to provide high-quality Career and Technical Education programs? If so, contact Doug Blake at Summit High School, doug.blake@summitk12.org.

Join us in empowering student-centered learning and delivering on the promise of creating a highly-skilled and well-educated workforce.

Krry Buhler is the superintendent of Summit School District. The school board includes Cindy Bargell, Tracey Carisch, Terry Craig, Kate Hudnut, Bonnie Ward, Lisa Webster and Sue Wilcox.

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