English and auto mechanics are two subjects that generally arent taught side-by-side.
At Bonneville Joint School District 93s new Technical Careers High School in Idaho Falls, however, students learn how to apply basic academic skills such as writing and math to hands-on careers such as auto mechanics and welding.
The Technical Careers High School opened Aug. 28 in several converted vocational buildings.
A lot of what we do actually makes sense, senior Heath Hansen said. You arent just sitting there wondering, How the heck am I going to use this? You know how youre going to use (the instruction) in life.
Although students must meet all the same academic requirements as traditional high school students, instruction at the Technical Careers High School teaches students core principles in a way that will benefit their careers.
We understand our students are interested in the technical fields and trades, Principal Craig Miller said. We are trying to make it so whatever subject we teach, we relate it to their interests.
In English class, for instance, students write a business cost estimate rather than an essay on classic literature, Hansen said.
In government and economics classes, students focus on policies that affect the trades and business.
You tie your content to their trade in every way you can, teacher Terri Angell said.
Making lessons relate to student career choices keeps them interested in the general academic topics, Angell said.
The school offers training in welding, auto collision repair and automotive tech. School officials plan to add construction and drafting and energy systems technology next year.
Energy systems technology will focus on energy production, robotics and engineering.
Today, the school only offers a full-time curriculum for its 25 seniors.
About 80 juniors take half-time courses on campus, while 110 sophomores spend a quarter of their school day there.
During the next three years, course offerings will increase allowing sophomores, junior and seniors to attend full-time. The school will not cater to freshmen, as administrators decided they were too young to safely use welding and automotive equipment.
Eventually, the school will cap enrollment at 300 students.
If you get bigger than 300 students, you lose the personality of the school, Miller said. When you have a smaller school with a smaller student body and a smaller staff, they become more like a family; and you get to know each others strengths and weaknesses and (learn) how to push the students to get a better education.
The school has partnered with Eastern Idaho Technical College and the Idaho State University College of Technology to offer dual high school/college credit for each of its technical programs.
It also is working to get its core classes offered as dual-credit college courses.
Many of the Technical Careers High Schools teachers are working toward certification to teach college-level courses. All of the technical programs are taught by industry professionals with teaching credentials.
Students who complete three years of any of the schools technical programs will graduate with 10 to 12 college credits. They also will be ready for certification in their field.
Senior Jacob Creech will graduate ready to be certified in welding. He hopes to use the head start hes received to get a job right away.
This will let me get a job right out of high school, Creech said. Everything Ive learned here I wont have to learn again and I can just go into the workforce.