Input vital in designing vocational program

By Ryan Luft, Guest Columnist

Vocational studies today at Staples Motley High School, and in the state of Minnesota, look quite different than 20 – 30 years ago. Many jobs students found as they left high school in the past have been downsized or transformed by automation.

The bright side is being seen in our own area with vocational employment opportunities and predicted high growth in the manufacturing sector. To take advantage of this potential, our graduates will need an understanding of computers and robotics with a solid background in math and science.

In spite of facing serious issues, including tightening budgets and increased federal requirements, Staples Motley High School has offered over 50 vocational courses over the past two years (with a two year rotating schedule) and we are still planning more for the future. We refuse to let present issues dictate future possibilities.

During this past year, one goal has been to work closer with our local businesses. Staples Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Central Lakes Community College (CLC), Staples campus, gave input to help develop an action plan for better streamlining our student recruiting efforts.

The first result of this effort came Jan. 25. The entire sophomore class was given a tour of the CLC Staples campus including time to ask questions of instructors and students in those classes. This tour included hands on opportunities for students to see the new technology requirements that the 21st century workforce will need.

Sixty students from the Class of 2015 had an additional trip Feb. 5. Business cooperation came from Staples EDA, Staples Precision Metalcraft, 3M, McKecknie Tool, CLC Heavy Equipment Machinery, and The Evolution of Vocational Studies in our schools at CLC.

On March 8, an additional job exploration tour is planned at the CLC Brainerd campus and is geared toward 10th and 11th graders. It’s being hosted by the Brainerd Area Bridges Program as “Big Day on Campus.”

Curriculum development is ongoing and requires our communities’ support and input. We continue to design our vocational programs here at Staples Motley to ensure future choices for our students.

As administrators, faculty, and community leaders, we know strong basics are the foundation for any successful education. Staples Motley students are encouraged to focus on their high school education while keeping one eye on the future.

Ryan Luft is the principal of Staples Motley High School.