Principal at Marion Co. area tech center aiming to change students futures - from knowing more about a career choice to important life lessons like changing a flat on a vehicle

Lebanon Enterprise, Aug. 31, 2016

Thinking about careers
By Jason Morrow

It isn’t always easy for students to choose their careers by the time their senior year rolls around. Some students don’t know what they are interested in before they are already working somewhere
or in college.

But Brandon Bardin, principal of the Marion County Area Technology Center (MATC), is trying to change that.

This fall, freshmen students of Marion County High School are required to take a career exploration course in which they will take part in 11 different programs at the ATC over the course of a semester. All of the classes are career and technical education based.

“We feel like if we don’t push kids to at least sample programs that were offered, then they would never attend up here,” Bardin said. “Our goal for that was to after Christmas get them into a pathway or set of classes that they’re really interested in. Basically, this whole program is about exposure.”

Each class takes the students through an eight-day course where they can get a taste of what each career might be like. For instance, a student may start with welding, partake in the class for eight days, then move on to carpentry. After another eight days, the student may then move on to industrial maintenance. The scheduling puts all freshmen through every course by the end of the year.

“They get some hands-on experience, they get a little bit of lecture and they kind of get familiar with the setting,” Bardin said.

Bardin also said that the courses will give the students practical education, even if they decide not to pursue a career in one of the programs.

“Regardless of whether or not they decide to pursue, let’s say automotive, as a career, the lesson is still to show how to change a tire using the jack that’s equipped with the car, how to check the oil,” he said. “Carpentry, probably everybody is going to live in a house someday, whether or not they make a career out of it, they are going to have to know how to do some routine maintenance on the house.”

Bardin said there have been a few hiccups along the way regarding scheduling conflicts, but for the most part, it has been a smooth transition and students seem to generally like it.

Carly Thomas, a freshman at MCHS, said she wanted to be in the medical profession when she got out of school, but other aspects of the course has been helpful to her.

"I like being able to know new things about a certain area,” she said. “In auto mechanics, I knew almost nothing about that, but I learned how to change a tire and change the oil.”

Bardin says he wants the students to be able to take something with them at the end of each course. For example, in welding class, students may be able to take a piece of steel with their initials engraved on it.

Bardin was glad to get the program started when he did because today, Aug. 31, is his last day at the MCATC. He’s pursuing a new career involving juvenile facilities throughout Kentucky.

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