There are many ways teachers and administrators at NH’s Career and Technical Centers help students make connections. At the Seacoast School of Technology (SST), “making connections” begins by teachers building relationships with middle-schoolers through Technology Fun Nights and SST Summer Camps.
At Technology Fun Nights, which run throughout the school year, students participate in events designed to get them excited about the fast-changing world of technology. Topics include everything from basic computer programming and animation to digital design, pre-engineering and more. In December, students will learn about the science, mathematics, engineering, and problem solving found in computer games.
According to Principal Margaret Callahan, these nights literally “sell out” in a matter of hours. “I have parents calling me the day after the last Technology Fun Night to sign up for the next one,” she said. “We have a waiting list of two pages and stop it there.”
Since starting these Technology Fun Nights in 2003, more than 3,500 students from the 5th through 9th grade have attended them. In helping students make connections to the larger community in which they live, they are also asked to bring a voluntary donation of three cans of food per person to donate to a local food bank.
At SST Summer Camps, which have taken place for the past six summers, Callahan said more than 700 students have participated in 15 different career camps. Programs offered this past summer included computer programming, an introduction to culinary arts, automotive engine basics, how to care for animals, and more.
“The summer camps sell out, too,” she said.” People have already started calling and parents line up with checks in hand the day registration opens.”
Morgan Leet ’16, Culinary Arts, Exeter High School, said her experience in SST’s Culinary Arts summer camp helped her find her passion. “Not only did I have a great time, but this experience really helped me decide that Culinary Arts is the path I want to take in my future,” she said. “I learned a lot in the kitchen and I was motivated to practice my skills at home and apply my knowledge.”
Leet’s involvement in SST’s programming did not stop there, however. “After attending the summer camp, I got involved in the SST mentor program and was able to learn even more about what is involved in the profession,” she said. “I also attended two of the SST Chef’s Table nights. Now that I am finally here as a student, I am ready to learn all that I can and I am very excited for a great year.”
Callahan credited “the vision and talents of [their] dedicated teachers” as instrumental toward helping students like Leet. “Many of our current students came to SST once upon a time as middle school students with only a vague idea of their future plans,” she said. “Today, their goals are more focused… We have a great school with generous teachers who offer great things to students of all ages.”
In looking ahead, Callahan said they look forward to expanding their programs as much as possible.
“We are teaching the skills people need to get jobs,” she added. “These programs are relevant and the payback is huge.”
To learn more, visit SeaCoastTech.com.