Field Trip to Technical Center Inspires ELL Students

Dec. 5, 2017 ~ A handful of Hispanic students at the Olathe Advanced Technical Center may have made a difference in the lives of some English Language Learners at Pioneer Trail Middle School in just a few short minutes. Their own experiences in the two-year career and technical education programs at OATC helped the Pioneer Trail students imagine career opportunities.

"The high school students did such a great job sharing and my kids are very excited about their high school possibilities," said English Language Learner (ELL) teacher Kaci Adams. "The program and academy leaders create great presentations and students are exposed to the information through multiple venues. For my students however, seeing is believing."

Adams escorted a small group of eighth-grade students who already had an interest in the OATC programs so they could see firsthand what's involved in the training for some careers. The tour coincided with a project-based learning unit on future careers.

"Our goal is for our ELL students to learn about future career paths and have plans in place to help them graduate and be successful," she said.

One group visited OATC to see the Auto Technology, Auto Collision, Welding and Construction Trades programs. Then they went to Olathe North High School to learn about the Culinary Arts program and four 21st Century Academies (Sports Medicine and Exercise Science, Medical Professions, Animal Health, and Geoscience). Following an ELL honors luncheon, another group traveled to Olathe West High School to see the Green Tech and Public Safety academies.

Adams' eighth-graders researched the OATC programs before the field trip and some were leaning toward a particular program even before touring the facility.

"A few changed their minds," Adams said. "One student was initially interested in the welding program, but after learning that the auto collision program also integrated light welding, he now wants to learn more about auto collision."

Her students loved the opportunity to hear about the programs and academies from other Hispanic students who are currently enrolled. Occasionally they heard from high school students who weren't interested in school until they joined one of these specialty courses.

"The programs and academies we visited showed my students that by persevering, they can explore their interested in high school and carry that into a career," Adams said. "In addition, my students often share their concerns about affording college. The high school students did a great job explaining that not only can students get scholarships, they can also get free college credit through these classes. That made my students feel like college was a real possibility for them.

"We really appreciate the program and academy coordinators as well as the high school students for leading us through the tours," Adams added. "They truly inspired our group of ELL students at Pioneer Trail. It is wonderful to hear them talking about so many opportunities for their future."

Pioneer Trail eighth-graders stepped into a welding booth to hear more about the class from a current welding student. three girls listen to boy talk about welding
An Auto Collision student showed how his classmates honed their auto body skills by hammering dents into bowling pins and working to make them look like new.  student shows how auto body work was done on bowling pin
The field trip included a look at a laser-cut piece of steel being made for Santa Fe Trail Middle School’s 50th anniversary.  students look at piece of laser cut steel

Amy Stolz, career and technical education administrator, took students through all of the two-year programs, including the Auto Technology shop.

Photos by Marlene Colgan
Amy Stolz takes students on tour