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Fifth graders visit TCHS

It was not the typical Monday for the fifth graders of East Goshen Elementary. They baked cookies, cut hair, Insight Onsite Culinary Artschanged tires, planted pumpkins, checked pulses and learned all about the prospects of career and technical education at the Chester County Technical College High School’s (TCHS) “Insight Onsite.”

The brainchild of Center for the Arts &Technology (CAT) Brandywine Campus Principal Seth Schram and TCHS Principal Michael Katch, “Insight Onsite” hosted the East Goshen fifth grade class for a day of hands-on excitement. Each student rotated through their top three“career choices,” everything from culinary arts and horticulture to police science and cosmetology, before enjoying lunch in the school cafeteria.

“We believe that all students need to be aware of their career opportunities but we don’t think the education starts early enough for career exploration,” said Principal Katch. “Insight Onsite gives the kids hands-on experience in any given field using career and technical education as the vehicle.”

Far from a series of sit-down lectures in the classroom, “Insight Onsite” had the fifth graders up and about,performing hands-on learning activities in each program.

“They were changing tires in automotive, baking cookies in culinary, learning the proper way to handle an animal in animal science and getting their nails done in cosmetology,” said Principal Schram. “It’s all about gaining insight by coming onsite, to campus."

But according to him, the learning experience was a two-way street. “We brought in the fifth grade population to see what they may be interested in as tenth graders if they choose the program,” Principal Schram explained. “It is a pilot for the future to do with other elementary schools served by career and technical schools.”

One vital piece of information shared with the fifth graders was that the opportunity to earn college credit in dual-enrollment classes exists at TCHS,meaning students can graduate from high school with up to 16 collegeInsight Onsite Animal Science credits. “We want to educate students that there are college opportunities as well as workforce opportunities from the career and technical schools,” said Principal Schram. “The fifth graders learned that TCHS, along with the new Brandywine campus on Boot Road set to open in September 2012, have articulation agreements with many colleges.”

According to East Goshen fifth grade teacher Paulette Tykwinski, it was the enthusiasm of principals Katch and Schram, along with the other instructors, that really got the students excited about the learning experience at TCHS.

“This field trip is important to students to see that there are many trades to try before you decide what you want to do in life,” noted Tykwinski. “It opened their eyes to see that they can get experience in a trade before entering college.”

Indeed, both Schram and Katch say they often hear from parents who mention that they wish they had learned about career and technical opportunities earlier. “What a great way to show that you can still get the best of both worlds: be college-ready and career-prepared,” concluded Katch.

As they left what several students called “the best field trip ever,” some had freshly painted nails, others, a pumpkin plant, but one thing every fifth grader had in common was a big smile and a head brimming with career opportunities.

Photo Caption 1:  Fifth graders from East Goshen Elementary got a taste of the culinary program at Technical College High School during the first "Insight Onsite" event held in May. Putting their freshly scrubbed hands to work, the elementary students baked cookies under the guidance of senior culinary student, Kari Ferrier. The cookies were used for a catering the next day and Chef Dan Dietrich himself confirmed they were absolutely delicious!

Photo Caption 2:  Fifth graders interested in animal science dealt firsthand with the dogs, cats, mice and other animals in the program at Technical College High School, including mastering the proper technique for handling these animals. Bob, the 14 week old Black and Tan Irish Terrier puppy, was a favorite among the elementary students. He was in one of the three litters of puppies born at TCHS this year, providing animal science students the chance to witness the birth and care of the puppies.