By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Yamhill-Carlton Career Academy to link training to interests

The program, which will be available to all students, will feature hands-on skill classes and academic choices aimed at tailoring traditional subjects to career fields. For instance, a student might learn welding and construction skills in vocational classes and choose a math class that focuses on geometry and measurements used in building trades.

Students are helping design the program, as are the school’s numerous business partners, Principal Greg Neuman said. “The kids are really fired up about it,” he said.

Neuman credited student input to helping the school win a $222,208 Career-Technical Education grant from the state this week. “We wrote a great grant proposal and got great news,” he said.

Part of the money will pay for planning, including a trip the principal, Superintendent Charan Cline and some teachers will take to Georgia in March.

Atlanta has a well-developed career academy, Neuman said, and the Y-C staff will do site visits and talk with program leaders there. In addition, the founder of that academy will visit the Yamhill and Carlton area as a consultant. 

However, Neuman stressed, Y-C has no plans to adopt the Atlanta program, or any other career program, outright. Rather, it will use other programs as models for creating an academy just right for its students and business base.

“We’ll make it work for our kids,” he said.

“We need to meet kids where they are and where their interests are and hook them on school,” Neuman said. “We want them to finish high school, first. And we want them to have options when they graduate, so they are ready to get a job and be a success, or to go to Chemeketa or another community college or training program first, or to go on to a four-year college.”

The YCCA will feature both school day and after school components. 

Some classes will teach direct skills needed by local industries, such as how to take and analyze soil samples. Others will focus on both technical skills and skills all employees need, such as how to interview for a job, work as part of a team and work with a supervisor.

Others will be career-interest alternatives to traditional academic classes, Neuman said.

For instance, students will be able to choose the regular 11th grade language arts class or a technical language English course. Or they can substitute a hands-on class that explores how chemistry is used in agricultural fields, rather than standard chemistry or physical science. Instead of world history, they might take a course on the history of industrialization.

“Another cool thing is we’ll have a rank and promotion system. As they earn different levels of certification, we’ll celebrate,” the principal said. He compared it to earning letters for athletics: Students might earn a different color of coveralls to indicate they had mastered certain mechanical skills.

After school, the school will offer “YCI-3” activities, with the three I’s standing for “imagine, inspire and innovate.” Students in the program will work to solve a real problem or challenge in the community.

The first YCI-3 project will pair students with local farmer Ben Van Dyke. Students will develop an agricultural drone program and use the drone to make infrared maps of Van Dyke’s fields.

Like the career academy itself, the after school portion is about “making the learning relevant to our kids,” Neuman said.