Bioscience

Real life learning in Pima County high schools

September 5, 2007

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Sandy Rathbun, KVOA News 4] — A new kind of real life learning is taking place in high schools all over Pima County thanks to the new Joint Technological Education District, also known as JTED. Voters approved JTED last year. They agreed to pay a property tax increase in order to create and improve technical and vocational training for Pima County’s 11 school districts.

At Palo Verde High School, teachers and students say the money is paying off. Kevin Kehl’s first period class isn’t your typical science class. He’s teaching biotechnology research. Kehl explains, “It’s cutting edge science. And Tucson wants to be a hub for that. Arizona wants to be a hub for biotechnology.” Kehl’s class is preparing Palo Verde High School students to get those jobs. Kehl tells them, “In labs across the state, in Tucson and even across the country, they’re trying to fill spots. They’re trying to fill jobs and they can’t.”

Delissa Fimbres, a Palo Verde senior, is taking Kehl’s class. She says, “Kids like us need to be able to get what we need to be successful.” Jamie Dennis, a junior, is considering a career in forensics. She says, “It {the class} is going to help me out to have an idea of what I’m really getting into.” In another classroom across the hall, Mike Cohen is preparing his students to be engineers. Cohen shows his class, “We’re learning how to read color bands on a resistor.” Cohen, a retired engineer, says his dream for his students is, “Lighting the light bulb, figuratively speaking, of what engineering is like, all of the different domains.”

Cohen’s students say this class is real life. Andre Martell, a Palo Verde sophomore, believes, “It would help me in the future to go to college and get a better job, a good paying job.” Dashaun Lewis, also a sophomore, says he’s taking Cohen’s class because, “I want to be a software engineer. And I think it would be fun being in this class, learning new stuff that I haven’t learned at all.”

It’s career and technical education for the 21st century. Pima County’s JTED is more than science. It also offers classes in many areas including culinary arts, nursing and automotive technology. The purpose of all the classes is to better prepare young people to join Southern Arizona’s workforce.