Niagara Gazette — The two high school girls looked like they were about to make a music video.
Dressed in lime green T-shirts and standing in a paint booth tricked out in the same bright colors, they were actually in their automotive class, learning how to paint cars.
One hopes to be a car restorer and the other plans to work in a automotive paint shop. Either way, given the smiles on their faces, they sure looked as if they are getting exactly what they need from our school system.
In class rooms all around them at Niagara-Orleans BOCES, cool stuff was happening. Every door had students behind it learning job skills. There were students in massive kitchens, up to their elbows in delicious looking cupcakes and pies; others were doing flips and lifting weights in the personal trainer class; and still others practicing welding, curling hair on plastic heads or tucking “hospital patients” into beds.
Just a few steps away was Niagara Academy were several of the most challenged students in the region described how they finally found a high school where they felt happy to learn.
In a nutshell, that describes my most recent Leadership Niagara experience, which featured immersion into the details of education and jobs training in our area.
The things that I saw defy all the wringing of hands taking place over the state of our education system.
Because me and my leadership classmates learned that day about the optimistic future of middle class employment. There are jobs going unfilled in the area and throughout the country and trained workers are the holy grail to restoring America’s economy. BOCES is leading the way, providing a consortium for skills training.
“The easist way to think about BOCES is what can we do efficiently as 13 different school districts,” explained Joe Steinmetz, a Leadership Niagara board member and BOCES director of career and technical education. “For example, we just bought a $25,000 wheel balancer for our automotive garage,” he explained. “It just doesn’t make sense for one school district to do that.”