Pathways to Success
Pathways to Success
Posted on 06/21/2018
Mr. Darryl Fox of North Buncombe High talks to two students about robotics and microcontrollers.By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept.

Exploration in Buncombe County Schools doesn’t stop when school breaks for the summer. Alongside summer camps focused on topics like athletics, music, and arts, the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Pathways camp in June gives students fun and practical experiences with real tools of real trades.

For more than a dozen years, the Pathways camp has aimed to give middle-schoolers a jump start on their future high school and professional careers. Hosted by A-B Tech Community College and in partnership with Eblen Charities, the free-of-charge three-day camp began on Wednesday, June 20, and rotated students between four topics: manufacturing, construction, hospitality/culinary arts, and computer coding.

Kayleigh Lawlor operates a drill in the construction class of the CTE Pathways camp.Students gained a basic understanding of each field, learned about equipment and safety, and engaged in hands-on problem-solving projects of their own. For example, in the construction session, students learned to operate power tools to build their own toolboxes. In the coding class, students created playable, electronic, musical instruments. On the manufacturing floor, students operated a high-tech robotic arm and learned about its roles in industrial processes. And in this region with a thriving hospitality industry, students learned foundational principles of the trade, as well as how to make delicious ravioli from scratch.

“I’d like to expand my horizons and learn life skills that I can take with me,” said student Kayleigh Lawlor through safety glasses after carefully setting her drill onto the workbench. “Right now, we’re learning how to build things together, listen to directions, and be organized with our work.”

Kayleigh just completed the eighth grade at Erwin Middle and next year will be a freshman at the Nesbitt Discovery Academy. She explained that math has been an important part of all of the Pathways topics, and in her construction session, she’s learning to make precise measurements for cutting and drilling.

On the same day, the coding students down the hall were wearing DJ-styled headphones and taking turns showing off eclectic musical instruments. Several students used painted pieces of wood and cardboard to create guitar-shaped objects laden with wire and sensors. Students triggered the attached computers to play tones by pressing on certain parts the instruments - or in some cases, pieces of fruit attached to the instrument.

“We had bananas in here playing music,” laughed Ms. Summer Rymer, a marketing teacher from Owen High who assisted with the coding class. “The kids love it and they pick up everything so fast.”

Rymer has assisted the camp for the past few years, and so far has also participated in the construction and culinary arts sessions. It gives her a chance to experience something new, she said, as well as get ideas she can bring back to her own school.

A male student plays his electronic "guitar" he created in the coding class.“Not only do students learn, but the teachers learn, as well,” said CTE Director Ms. Christy Cheek, explaining that a number of BCS middle and high school teachers, as well as staff from AB-Tech, work together to guide the campers.

“We’re trying to give them an idea of the technical things we offer as they head towards high school,” said Mr. Darryl Fox of North Buncombe High, as he stood next to a large, yellow, mechanical arm. “Today we’re focused on robotics and micro-controllers- something every industry today uses.”

People may view robots as replacing workers, Fox explained, but “here in the 21st century, we need to be teaching our kids how to program, control, and build these machines.”

The CTE Pathways camp may only last a few days each year, but it helps students build confidence, create memories, and discover new interests that could propel them in the years to come. It’s another way that BCS works to prepare students for their tomorrow.

“It’s important for students to understand that there are no right or wrong ways to get into careers,” Cheek said. “We’re here to have fun, enjoy life, and explore.”

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Learn more about Career and Technical Education in Buncombe County Schools at CTE.BuncombeSchools.org.
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