Ohio State Superintendent Visits Belmont-Harrison Vocational School District
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont-Harrison Vocational School District hosted a visit from Ohio State Superintendent of Schools Paolo DeMaria Friday, marking Career Technical Education Month.
DeMaria questioned the school board and Superintendent Richard Schoene about the school’s operations, the coursework offered and what the future might hold. He toured the building and met with teachers and students. He also viewed ongoing projects.
Newly-elected Ohio Rep. Don Jones, R-Marietta, also took the opportunity to attend.
Schoene described construction trade, internship and job placement programs, adding that many of the courses were focused on oil and gas jobs. He added that the proposed ethane cracker plant in Dilles Bottom is being taken into account when training.
DeMaria also asked about the school’s partnerships with businesses. Schoene said they take the input of area businesses into account when training students and purchasing equipment.
“The opportunities are huge right now, because of all the oil and gas that’s come into the area, and spinoffs,” Schoene said, adding that enrollment has remained largely the same during the past several years.
DeMaria commented that students also have the opportunity to pursue higher education.
“The beauty of the career tech experience is you come away with those academics. You’re prepared as much for college as other students, but you also have that perspective on that career skill set,” he said.
Board Member Roger Stewart, representing the Bridgeport School District, spoke about preparing students for the changing world.
“This whole area was steel mills and coal mines. We’ve seen the downfall of that because the mills are gone,” Stewart said. “We need to think outside of the box, with these new jobs coming in. That cracker plant is going to open up a lot of opportunities for the polymer industry with plastics. Oil and gas. A lot of those jobs are high tech…The technical schools are going to be thinking outside the box. ‘What jobs are coming up? What are we going to prepare these young students for?'”
“You’ve got to be thinking ahead,” DeMaria said, adding that technical schools face the task of offering training short term construction jobs, as well as future occupations.
Dan Lucas, representing Union Local School District, added that the coursework also offers an opportunity for students with disabilities or special needs to prosper and thrive.
“I always appreciate great leadership,” DeMaria said afterward. “It sounds like they’re really forward thinking about the needs of the business community. What are the needs of the local economy? How can they actually benefit their kids and make sure they’re successful. … It’s really applied learning. When you get your hands on a car and you’re replacing an engine, now you understand why you have to think about hydraulic pressure and electrical currant and the way different parts interact.”
DeMaria visited automotive and mechanics classes, as well as classes in welding, and carpentry.
He visited technical schools throughout the day.