“It’s a great refresher and great networking,” said Jeff Schneider, who has been teaching small engines and welding for 15 years at Moorhead High School Career Academy. ”We don’t get that many opportunities to network, and there aren’t that many workshop opportunities,” he said.
And it’s helpful to get some training in other areas, such as drones, he added. “There were three Moorhead teachers here, and we all picked up something different from the drone training,” he said.
The high school teachers attending the workshops range from 30-year veterans to rookies .
“We’re using college-level instruction about things they could do in the classroom,” said Steve Hoemberg, director of outreach with Minnesota State (Colleges and Universities) Transportation Center of Excellence, located in Dakota County Technical College.
High school teachers learn a lot from each other, as well as the instructors, at the workshops, and it gives the new teachers a safe place to learn some of the basics and get to know others in the field to call for advice, said Bemidji-based Sue Selland-Miller, director of manufacturing education programs for Minnesota State.
“If we can get high school teachers talking to their students about these careers and these opportunities, it’s good for everyone,” she said.
Teachers leave with the ability to borrow a drone from a sort of “lending library” program at the Northland Community College in Thief River Falls and the The National Center for Autonomous Technologies.
And each teacher will bring back to their classroom a new small gas engine and wooden engine box to hold it, courtesy of Toro lawnmowers.
The welding workshop is being held at the Detroit Lakes High School’s new welding shop.
The high school teachers at the workshop there have been”raving about the high school set up, saying ‘this is how we’d like our building set up for welding,” said Hoemberg. “So the high school is getting some good billing around the state.”
The impetus behind the workshops is to get the word out that some high-demand, high-skill areas aren’t getting the students they should be, and organizers hope to “get industry talking to colleges, talking to high schools, to find out what does everyone need to get better?” Hoemberg said. The goal of all eight centers of excellence at Minnesota State is to “engage, enhance, inspire,” he said.
The first workshop was held as a pilot program last year at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Jackson, and the interaction among instructors, teachers, organizers and the host campus led to a kind of virtuous dynamic that made it an easy call to do it again, this time in Detroit Lakes, Selland-Miller said. “So many unplanned, unexpected things have happened,” she said. “That’s what really makes this.”
The Detroit Lakes M-State campus has been very hospitable, in big ways and small, which adds a lot to the atmosphere of communal learning, she added.
“M-State is excited to host and participate in this train the trainer event,” said Matthew Loeslie, dean of the School of Applied Technology at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. “We really appreciate having college and high school educators coming together to learn and build relationships so they can better serve their students.”