Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Our Towns: Part 3 of 12

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Last month I started doing a 12 part blog series over the final weeks of school to highlight our communities. So much has changed and continues to change in our school landscape, however I still want to focus on the great partnerships that make Vantage a special place.

Right before our school closure, many of our Antwerp students were excelling in their different hobbies outside of the normal school day. Jacob Savina, Hunter Grant and Owen Sheedy were part of the Antwerp basketball team that was playing in the Regional tournament, and Randall Mills had qualified for the OHSAA State Wrestling tournament. A couple weeks ago the OHSAA officially cancelled the winter sports tournaments. For seniors, like Randall, my heart goes out to them. Hopefully they know that the hard work that they put in to be successful will carry them far in their lives ahead. The same goes for all those spring athletes and students that participate in extracurricular activities like school musicals. 

In times like these it is so important to have hobbies that occupy your time, and maybe even inspire your days. Those hobbies could be anything; sports, woodworking, painting, welding, drawing, craft making, mechanics, programming, cooking, and the list goes on and on. 

For many of our students it is exactly these kinds of hobbies that draw them to attend Vantage. Many times these types of hobbies turn into passionate careers for our students. For example current students, Kaitlyn Titus and Ellie Wolf took their interests and have turned them into careers during high school. Both are participating in the early placement part of our Career Advanced Placement (CAP) program. Kaitlyn has earned certifications in the health field and is now working at Vancrest Healthcare. Ellie has also taken the knowledge from the Early Childhood program here at Vantage and turned it into a job at Precious Ones Daycare. These are just a few examples of great things our Antwerp students are doing!

It's no secret if you've read any of my previous blogs that running is a hobby of mine that has helped me throughout my life. However, during these last 5 weeks I've also turned to another hobby in the evenings and weekends to occupy my time and keep my mind busy. I've started to frame a couple rooms in our basement and run the electrical wiring for those rooms. These things have been very therapeutic for me. During this time, I hope we all can find some things that meaningfully occupy our time and give us some sort of normalcy. We will all get back together, until then, stay safe and stay healthy!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Our Towns: Part 2 of 12

Last Monday I started doing a 12 part blog series over the final weeks of school to highlight our communities. So much has changed in our school landscape since then, however I still want to focus on the great partnerships that make Vantage a special place.

In that last post I mentioned how running sometimes gives me time to think and often times inspires my thoughts. That is the case again this week, as this past weekend I went for a run with one of my former athletes, who is now running in college at Heidelberg. Talk about motivation in a time where many of us are trying to figure out our new reality. To give you the background, this young man just got his College Outdoor Track season cancelled by the NCAA on his 21st birthday. For many people that would create a lot of anger and depressed feelings, however he had such a positive attitude about his training and future that it rubbed off on me. For that reason, this week I want to continue highlighting our communities by focusing on that community I coach in: Fort Jennings.

Thirteen years ago I started my career in education as a teacher at Vantage. In my third year of teaching I started to coach track and field at Fort Jennings. Through my years at Vantage and my years of coaching I've gotten to know many students from Fort Jennings very well. One of the high school teammates of the young man mentioned above was Kyle Maag. I got to know Kyle very well in high school, because not only was he an athlete that I coached, but he was also a student here at Vantage (Industrial Mechanics). I always knew Kyle would be very successful after graduation, so it was no surprise when he reached out to me a couple months ago to say he was looking to hire a new employee at Fenson Contracting. Luckily, we were able to help him out.

Currently this year, Thomas Calvelage is getting the most out of his time in the Construction program here at Vantage. He interned with Webken Masonry this past fall and now is working for Fenson Contracting in Jennings.

Last week I mentioned that spring is a time when many of our seniors have jobs lined up for after graduation and those that excel in the classroom have the opportunity to do advanced job placement through our CAP (Career Advanced Placement) Program. Tyler Kahle (Industrial Mechanics) is doing just that by working for BK Tool and Design in Kalida.

Speaking of BK, last week I also mentioned that many of our junior students are already lining up summer jobs/internships, and that is the case with Nathan Sealts (Precision Machining) who has been working at BK this school year, Derek Weyrauch (Welding) working at Unverferth Manufacturing, and Eli Zehender (Ag & Industrial Power) working at A & D Automotive.

Keep up the good work guys!

I'm sure I forgot to highlight some of our other Jennings students that are doing amazing things as well, so if I missed you with a shout out, I am sorry!

As I mentioned above, many of us are looking for new routines and new motivation to get through our days because so much in our lives has changed in the past week. I have been so impressed with our students this week and the effort that they are making to learn. Their effort is truly motivating to me. So many times in life we look to our coaches, teachers and mentors for motivation, but this past week it has been this coach/teacher being motivated by the students/athletes. Our future is bright with these young people coming up! We will get through this, and our students will lead the way!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Our Towns: Part 1 of 12

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Last week marked 12 weeks left in the school year. It's hard to believe that we are approaching graduation and summer break already! For those of you that know me pretty well, you know that running is something that I like to do in my free time. Currently I am in the middle of training for the Boston Marathon, so on most Saturday mornings I can be found running the streets of Delphos, getting anywhere from 10 to 20 miles in on the roads. Often times I consider these runs as therapy sessions, as they give me plenty of time to reflect and think. While running through town this past weekend I started thinking about all the good things our students are doing in the communities that we serve and thus came the idea of doing a 12 part blog series over the final weeks of school to highlight our communities. With that being said I am going to start with the community that this idea started in: Delphos.

Delphos is a special community for Vantage, as it is the only one that contains two of our schools: Delphos Jefferson and St. John's High Schools. The students from these schools are accomplishing great things this year at Vantage. When I started writing this blog I began by posting pictures of some of the students in action, but soon realized that I would not have enough room to post everyone, so if I missed you with a shout out, I am sorry! Here are some of the highlights:

Over the weekend Chase Martin qualified for the State Wrestling Meet. Chase is a junior from St. John's in our Electricity Lab. In the summer he works for ATR Mechanical and plans to work towards an Electrical Engineering degree after high school (hopefully through an apprenticeship). Good luck this weekend, Chase!

Recently, several of our Delphos Jefferson students placed at the SkillsUSA regional competition and will be competing at State during the first week of April:

  • Mark Rice will be competing in the Carpentry competition. Mark is a senior in our Carpentry Lab who plans on working for Miller Bros. Construction after graduation.
  • John Pseekos and Tanner Mathewson will be competing in the Welding Fabrication competition. They are both seniors in our Welding program. After graduation Tanner plans on working at Unverferth Manufacturing and John also plans on pursuing a career in Welding.
Good luck at State!

A couple more current Delphos students have excelled in past competitions that are also worth noting:

Gunnar Stemen was our local winner of the Poetry Out Loud contest here at Vantage. He is a senior from St. John's in our Network Systems program. Gunnar plans on attending the Ohio State University next year, majoring in Computer Programming.

Bridget Martin (Health Technology, Delphos Jefferson) competed at HOSA Nationals last summer in Florida! She competed in the Nursing Assistant competition as a junior. As a senior, Bridget has earned her CPR/First Aid, STNA, Certified EKG Technician, and EMT Basic Certifications! She plans on majoring in Nursing at Wright State next year.

Lastly, spring is a time when many of our seniors have jobs lined up for after graduation and those that excel in the classroom have the opportunity to do advanced job placement through our CAP (Career Advanced Placement) Program. Here is a quick shout out to Logan Teman and Hunter Mericle (both seniors in Industrial Mechanics from Delphos Jefferson) who are both on Advanced Placement. Logan is working for Krendl Machine and Hunter is working for Vanamatic, both in Delphos. Keep up the good work guys!

Soon, many of our junior students will also be lining up summer jobs/internships. Just a couple weeks ago Dustin Pohlman and Abbi Price from ATR came in and presented to our juniors about these kinds of opportunities. Thank you to our business partners in Delphos for all that you do to support our students!

As a resident of the Delphos area, I am so proud of our students. I also look forward to many future success stories of how our students have benefited from the partnerships that exist between our schools and businesses!

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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!