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Live chat with Jeff Stouffer - transcript

December 19, 2006

Jeff Stouffer, principal of the Washington County Technical High School, will chat about how what once was called "vocational education" has changed and why some courses once taught there, such as welding and plumbing, are no longer offered. Our chat will start at 1:00 pm and end at 2:00 pm today.

Questions or comments can be submitted by clicking here before and during the chat. Or send an email to: onlinechat@herald-mail.com




Louisa:

Marketing?

I have mixed feelings about programs at Tech. There are so many great coponents of tech that are under utilized or missed by prospective familes.

The WCTHS has many superior programs yet students are sometimes reluctant to look into the programs. Some feel they would miss their home school. A solution is that some home schools encourage tech students to particpate in their home school after-hours programs.

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Those tech students who are active in their home school programs such as sports, debate team, drama club, or other activities have the best of both worlds.

Other students worry they will miss the advanced placement options on the days they are outside their tech area. This has been minimized by offering a range of acdemics at tech, some at a basic level, others at a more advanced level.

My question is with all these solutins why is it still difficult to get the word out on tech? Would marketing to new families moving up to our county help? Would it be beneficial to take the next step of becoming a top magnet school, by increasing the professional nature of the school (higher level of independent thinking and choices)?

Currently, tech is not listed as a magnet school on the WCPS web page which may deminish some of its potential. Also, alot of excitement is focused on the proposed arts magnet. Tech already has some computer imagery and visual communications programs that would argment an arts magnet. Would it help to increase attention to the computer technology/gaming and visual communications componets of tech? They are cutting edge areas that sometimes are overlooked when home schools or WCTHS markets the school.

1)The message is not getting out.

2) some students feel tech could be great if they had increased ownership/decison making paths while at tech.It would go hand in hand with the emphasis on career readiness.

Stouffer: In regards to missed advance placement options, Washington County Technical High School (WCTHS) currently has AP Calculus, AP English, AP US History and AP Psychology. Next year we will probably add AP Literature and maybe AP Biology.

Any time we are invited to speak at any of the high schools, we go to the public home schools (ex. North Hagerstown High School). We also participate in all of the public home schools Transition Nights, which is 8th graders and the parents ready to go to the 9th grade. We attend also meetings when they are having 10th graders and their parents, we have a huge Open House in the Spring, we have 4 public service announcements that air on Channel 99, we have a lot of mailed informational letters that go to the students homes and we have some teachers that actually go to the public home schools to meet with certain teachers to identify students who would be a nice match for our programs.

We also have different classes of 6th & 7th graders that visit Tech High, to tour each of the 15 Tech areas.

In late October we have every 10th grader in Washington County that walks through each of our Tech areas and at the end of the day, they have an opportunity to sign up for two programs during one day for closer observation.




Moderator: Is it difficult to convince students to leave their so-called

"home schools"?

Stouffer: Most students really enjoy their home schools, and yes, sometimes it is difficult to convince students that WCTHS has excellent programs, which include:

-Advanced Computer Applications (Game Design)

-Automotive Technology

-Carpentry & Construction

-Collision Repair

-Computer Repair & Networking (CRAN)

-Cosmetology/Hairstylist

-Criminal Justice

-Culinary Arts

-Digital Communications

-Early Childhood Professions

-Electrical Construction

-Graphic Communications (Printing)

-Health Occupations

-Pre-Engineering/Project Lead the Way (PLTW)

-Visual Communications

On our marquee, the following message proudly states:

"Give us two years at WCTHS, and we'll give you a lifetime of careers."

Although transferring to WCTHS is a bold move for many students, the benefits far outweigh their concern. Students who make the transition are satisfied with their choice after a short period of time; making new friends from across the County and getting involved in their classes and other activities. Students are eligible to participate in their home schools athletic teams, and over the years WCTHS has had many athletes enrolled who played sports in their home schools. In addition, WCTHS gives away one car each year to a senior as one of our many incentives designed to encourage students.




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