Thursday, October 3, 2019

Who doesn't want to improve?

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It has been a busy last couple weeks at Vantage. Just to give you an idea of what is going on: 

  • Our students are diving deeper into their academic and career-tech curriculum. 
  • Our fall athletes are continuing to compete (Shout out to Nolan German for winning the Putnam County League Cross Country meet this week!)
  • Field trips, guest speakers and special events are also in full swing. In the last two weeks alone:
    •  Early Childhood students took the preschool children to Stoneco to learn about rock formations 
    • Carpentry students took a trip the Carpenter's Union
    • GROB was here to speak with students in our Manufacturing programs
    • We inducted 42 new members into the National Technical Honor Society
    • We experienced our first two fog cancellations of the year this week
    • Lincolnview's 6th graders will be taking a tour tomorrow
    • A few staff members from Miller City High School visited our Health programs on Tuesday to see how they can improve upon their medical courses

Whether it's improving medical courses or our own health, career, family, school or athletics, it is human nature to want to improve upon ourselves. Speaking of improvement, we here at Vantage received our annual school report card a few weeks ago. Overall, we scored a "B" which is nothing to hang our heads about. In one of the areas on the report card, "Career and Post-Secondary Readiness" we improved our percentage by over 25% from last year. Talk about improvement! However, we are not done. Looking at the data, if we could have improved that area by 1.7% more, it would have given us an overall grade of "A". So with that said, we will be better! We will continue to focus on preparing students for college, career, and the military through emphasis on credentials, work-based learning opportunities, pre-apprenticeships and the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal.

Becoming better. Isn't that something that everyone strives for? 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Partnerships for Stronger Communities

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This week was another busy one at Vantage Career Center as our students are fully immersed in their career and academic studies. Our fall athletes are in full swing as well. Shout out to Kaylee Buzard and the Delphos Jefferson girls golf team for winning the NWC this week! 

It is hard to believe we are already halfway through the 1st quarter! (Interim grades went out this week). Many of our seniors are getting in their last college visits before they make a decision and students are out and about on field trips and job shadowing experiences as well. This week our Ag & Industrial Power and Construction Equipment Technology students took a trip to the Farm Science Review to see what is new and upcoming in the Agricultural and Equipment industries. Our Psychology, Health, Early Childhood and Criminal Justice classes attended a Human Trafficking workshop in Toledo. The Precision Machining students took a tour of Tenneco (Federal Mogul) where they got to see a few of our recent graduates working (Shout out to Christian who graduated in 2016 and will make over $70,000 this year!!!) And last but not least, Crown Equipment was here to teach soft skills to our Trade & Industrial students. Wow! These are just a few examples of the great exposure students are getting to careers, as well as just a few of the businesses that continue to partner with us to provide opportunities for students.

Speaking of partnerships, that got me thinking about all the great partnerships that make Vantage what it is. The partnerships with local businesses, chambers, economic development and advisory councils, and most importantly, the partnerships with our 13 local schools! This week I had the pleasure of attending a meeting at Delphos City Schools to discuss career opportunities for students. DJHS is starting Career Pathways classes in the 8th and 9th grades, and are looking to expand upon that career education further into high school. As part of the classes students are exposed to careers and are asked to develop a 10 year plan that includes the career they will pursue and what education/training it will take to make that a reality. They will explore their interests and strengths and use that to match with careers associated with those interests and strengths. 

These kinds of programs in early high school are exactly what we need so that students can make informed decisions about their futures. By exploring early and often we can see if our career will require a credential, associates, bachelors or graduate degree. This will also allow us to see how much it is going to cost to get that training, and in the end, how much we can make in that career. 

For Christian (mentioned above), the decision to get debt free training at Vantage while still in high school, paired with the potential to make over $70,000/year as a machinist in his hometown of Van Wert was a no brainer. It is personal stories like these that make me proud to be a part of Vantage and all of the partnerships that make these opportunities available to students!

Friday, August 30, 2019

10 Days in...

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We are 10 days into the new school year and it has been a great first two weeks! The students are settling into their new classes and getting back into the groove of school. We have had many exciting things happen already this year. Today we celebrated our fall athletes with our annual Fall Sports Spirit Day. Lima Hometown Stations was also here today to do a segment on our Community Garden that Mrs. Farr and many of our students have put a lot of hard work into. Our Criminal Justice students have completed their first round of physical training tests and now have a benchmark to beat as the year goes on. Our Early Childhood students have taken their first trip to Thomas Edison to assist with the preschool. And FFA students competed last night in the Barnyard Challenge at the VW County Fair. We also found out a couple exciting things. First, that one of our excellent High School Math teachers, Kelly Horstman, will be recognized as the Northwest District's OCTM High School Math Teacher of the Year! And second, Senator Rob Portman will be visiting our campus next week! What an exciting time to be at Vantage! 

Another thing that came out this week was news on a PBS special that will air next week called, "The Career Path Less Taken" which is part of the bigger series, American Graduate: Getting to Work. This special highlights the innovative career-tech programs across the state of Ohio that are preparing young people for the jobs of the future. You can watch the show in the link below. Watch closely and you will catch a couple of our recent graduates, Kory Kline (Van Wert) and Ethan Geise (Ottoville) competing in the State SkillsUSA competition.

Kory and Ethan are perfect examples of the great opportunities that await students that choose a career-tech pathway. Kory participated in our first annual CAP signing day last spring, signing on to continue his career with Wallace Plumbing. Ethan, who took College Credit Plus math courses while at Vantage, is continuing his education and career experience by working at Unverferth Manufacturing while also attending UNOH in the Robotics and Automation program. Both of these are continuations of the career paths they started in the Industrial Mechanics program here at Vantage.

The CAP signing day is part of a broader program called CAP, or our Career Advancement Program at Vantage Career Center, which focuses on integrating students into high demand local employment opportunities through three phases of advancing students’ careers. The three phases include:

1. Internships between Junior and Senior year
2. Early Placement during Senior year
3. Career/College Placement upon graduation

If you watched the video above you may have caught the line, "We now are in a world where a lot depends on what you know and can do, and less on how much schooling you have and that is a radical idea for some people." We see that every year here at Vantage. Students, Parents and Grandparents still hanging onto the idea that you have to get a bachelors or masters degree to be successful, when in today's economy it is more about what skills you have and less about degrees. It is an exciting time to be a career-tech student, and like I said above, What an EXCITING TIME TO BE AT VANTAGE!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

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As we gear up for another school year, there is starting to be a lot more action around the building. The last two nights we have hosted our new students and their parents at our new student orientations. Our teachers will be back in the building tomorrow for our staff workday (many have already been in their rooms getting ready for the new year). And our students will be back in classes next week (new students on Monday, and everybody on Tuesday). 

This week you could tell that the new students are excited and maybe a little nervous all at the same time. The new school year brings new possibilities and new adventures for our staff and students here at Vantage Career Center. 

When I first found out that I was going to be the new High School Director at Vantage I knew that I would need a lot of help to make sure the school year ran successfully. One the first things I did was reach out to staff to develop a high school leadership team. I asked those that volunteered for this team to answer a few questions to guide the direction of our team and school. One of the questions was, "What do you think is the core value that allows Vantage to pull through difficult times?" Overwhelmingly, the majority of people responded with something about the team here at Vantage. Here is one response: "Teamwork. Vantage is a family and we always have each other’s backs. Without teamwork and the ability to make sacrifices for the team, we wouldn’t be able to pull off some of the events the school puts together and it is also necessary when preparing students for the world."

At our orientations the past two nights I told students and parents that they will get to know what I consider THE BEST, most caring staff I have ever worked with and that staff will do whatever it takes to make sure our students are successful. There is a pride here at Vantage, both for our beautiful facility and for what we do here. That pride is seen through the actions of staff and students that walk through these halls. If there is trash on the floor, someone picks it up and throws it away. It doesn't matter if it's a new student, teacher, administrator or other staff member, you will never hear someone say "That's not my job." We roll up our sleeves, pitch in, and get the job done!

Because of that core value and attitude that exists here, I am excited to see what the new year brings. I hope you are too!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Is he successful? You decide...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hearing Tom Burden speak at the annual Ohio ACTE Connections to Education Conference. Tom Burden is from Celina, a graduate of Tri-Star Career Compact (CAD & Precision Machining), and a former F16 mechanic in the Air Force Reserve. Tom spent much of his talk crediting his teachers at the Career Center for inspiring him and giving him the skills to be an innovator. He also touched on the fact that back when he made the decision to attend Tri Star many people were shocked at his decision, often times asking "Aren't you going to go to college?" As if to say, he couldn't be successful if he chose to learn a skilled trade. To that question he would respond with the idea that he could do both. It didn't have to be an either, or decision. He would use his skilled training to advance his career! So is Tom successful? You decide...

After graduating from Celina and Tri Star, Tom joined the Air Force, which in turn gave him the opportunity to earn an engineering degree from the University of Toledo (debt free).

While working on aircraft, Tom became frustrated by his tools sliding off the surfaces he was working on and the time wasted searching for lost hardware, he began looking for a solution. With the skills gained at Tri Star and as a mechanical engineering student at the University of Toledo, Tom began prototyping a non-slip rubberized tool tray in his basement.

Three years later, he released the Grypmat, a non-slip, flexible tool mat that solves the problem of inefficient tool accessibility for mechanics and tinkerers alike.

To raise money for the Grypmat, Tom launched a wildly-popular Kickstarter campaign. In November of 2017, Tom appeared on the hit show Shark Tank and pitched in front of four Sharks, walking away with a $360,000 combo deal between Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, and Richard Branson.

Since premiering on SharkTank, Grypmat has increased its team and sales, and been named one of TIME magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year. Tom has also recently made it on to Forbes 30under30 list.

For too long in our American society we have pushed the idea that you must go to college to be successful. So much so that we ask high school graduates every year, "Where are you going to college?" The question we should really be asking is, "What career are you going to pursue? And what do you have to do to make that a reality?"

Every year at Vantage we see students using their skilled training to further their careers. They leave our halls and go on to careers, the military and college, or even apprenticeships that pay for college. All of these pathways lead to success, just as Tom Burden is living proof.

You can watch his Shark Tank experience by clicking on the link below.

Monday, July 15, 2019

What do you want to be when you grow up?

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Have you ever been asked that question? I'm sure you have. I started to think about this question when my wife asked our 3 year old daughter what she wanted to be when she grows up. Without a second of hesitation she answered "I want to style people's hair." A month ago she said she wanted to be nurse, and I'm sure it will change several more times between now and when her professional career begins.

But that moment got me thinking about how each of us arrives at the decision of what we will do when we "grow up." How and when did you decide upon your career? 

I grew up on a grain and beef farm between Columbus Grove and Bluffton, Ohio. My brother and I had most of the same experiences growing up. We showed steers at the county fair, helped out with the grain operation, were both active in clubs and athletics, among other things. All these things helped my brother and I start to figure out what we wanted to do for a career. However, our paths were very different. From the time he was in the 7th grade, my brother knew he wanted to be veterinarian, and is a very successful one today. It took me a little longer, as I didn't decide on a career until I was 20 years old. 

In high school, I was pretty good in Math and Science and I really enjoyed my Industrial Tech and Drafting classes that I took. As a result, I started college to pursue a career in engineering. During my sophomore year of college two things happened that influenced my career path. First, I became a TA for intro level Calculus courses, and second, I worked as an engineering intern during the summer doing mostly CAD work. Through those two experiences I realized I loved teaching a lot more than I liked sitting in an office working on mechanical designs. From that point on my career focus was education. 

It doesn't really matter that I'm in education or my brother is a Vet. The point that is important however, is how we all arrive at what we want to do for a living. For most of us, we had to do job shadowing, work part-time jobs, take interesting elective courses and experience things to figure out what we really liked to do. THAT IS WHAT CAREER TECH IS! Instead of just learning about careers, CTE students across the country experience careers by actually doing them. This allows students the chance to figure out if a career is right for them, BEFORE they take on any student loan debt. 

As my own children "grow up" I hope each of them takes advantage of Career Tech classes to help them choose what they want to be.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Have you ever heard "Career-Tech is's just not for my kid"?

If you have ever visited the new facility at Vantage Career Center, odds are you were probably blown away by the technology and equipment that our high school students are using to learn on a daily basis. Every time I give a tour to a visiting group it never fails, I will always hear how great our facility is, and how great of an opportunity Career-Tech Education (CTE) is for our students. However, there are still hundreds of students each year that choose not to participate in CTE classes. 

So what's the problem? Why are they not taking advantage of this great opportunity? For many parents, I think the idea of COLLEGE was drilled in our heads when we were younger and as a result, many adults still see CTE as a great opportunity for someone, just not for my kid, because he/she is going to college. Unfortunately, these misconceptions are hurting our young people today because they are missing opportunities that could lead them to their goals.
CTE is no longer just for students who are not going to college. Quite the contrary, students who graduate from CTE courses have the soft skills, technical skills and academic knowledge to be college AND career ready. As just a small example of the opportunities available to CTE students let's look at the picture above:

1. Matt has earned an apprenticeship as an Ohio Operators Engineer. If you don't know what that is you can go to the following website for more information (, but to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, after the four years of his apprenticeship, Matt will be making $35.89/hour.

2. Trevor will be a senior this year, taking College Credit Plus mathematics courses while learning CNC operations in our Precision Machining program.

3. Adam will be working as a machinist for Schnipke Precision Molding. If you're not sure what they do, check them out here:

4. Connor and Sami both have earned an apprenticeship with GROB Systems which will pay for both of them to earn their college degree. FREE COLLEGE as a result of CTE!!! (

So in the future if you ever hear someone say how great CTE is, it's just not for them or their kids, tell them they are right. CTE is just not for their student, IT'S FOR ALL STUDENTS!