By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News: DEXTER - The Tri-County Technical School will expand its programming next fall to include high school freshmen and sophomores in an effort to keep nontraditional students in school.
The technical school typically serves juniors and seniors, but sending superintendents say there is a need to offer the option much earlier to prevent dropouts.
"There has been discussion about the need for some years now on ninth- and 10th-grade students who werenít engaged in high school because they didnít see the meaning of [school]," said Nick Vafiades, the centerís director.
He said high school principals and guidance counselors have had difficulty persuading these students to stay in school until their junior year, when they could participate in the technical center programs. School officials believe these young students would stay in school if their involvement in the technical center came earlier.
The new offering, which follows the Career Pathways course outline and involves exploratory-type career activities, is supported by the sending superintendents in SADs 46, 4, 68, 41 and 48. The program themes will be renewable energy, alternative energy and green conservation-type activities, according to Vafiades.
School officials are using a portion of a federal Carl Perkins grant to help offset the cost of the new program, which has been approved by the technical centerís regional council and SAD 46 directors, who serve as the technical schoolís host. School officials have verbal approval from the Department of Education to expand the programming, according to Vafiades.
"Itís being developed on the fly," Vafiades admitted. "We did put together the proposal and all the concepts are in place." School officials are now hiring a teacher and an assistant teacher for the program.
Only a limited number of slots are available for students, Vafiades said. The program will be open to 30 students who will be divided into two groups and will attend classes on alternating days. Because it is a dropout prevention program, the students will be selected by their teachers for the program.
"I think that itís fantastic," SAD 4 Superintendent Paul Stearns said. "I think we, in the education field, need to look at where positions are and where career opportunities are and adjust our programming to align more with those needs."
As an example, he said Cianbro Corp. is paying people to learn to weld because of a shortage of welders. These people will learn a skill and get good wages, he said. "I just think we need to do as much as we can in the vocational area to prepare students for work."
SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan hailed the program as a step in the right direction for students who donít fit the typical classroom mode.
"Itís a program we hope that will really address some of the dropouts that we have," Jordan said. "I think itís going to be a wonderful program." He said there have been freshmen and sophomores who have wanted to attend the technical center in the past, but because of the requirements of their local schools and the enrollment limit, it was an impossibility.
Since space is an issue at the technical center, Vafiades said the program would be held in a classroom at Dexter Regional High School.
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|