Pioneer Tech is a high school completion program in Hamilton that offers all students a flexible learning environment. Pioneer staff members work diligently to differentiate the ways that they work with students in order to help them remain focused on high school graduation even when life gets in the way. Students choose the program due to a unique variety of life situations, such as pregnancy, homelessness and medical challenges.
The staff at Pioneer Tech High School meets the individual needs of their students while maintaining high standards as they encourage and motivate students to reach their full potential.
The teacher to student ratio at Pioneer Tech is better than at a regular high school and it offers a chance for students to have an individualized schedule to work one-on-one with teachers,” Steven Robbins, a junior at Pioneer Tech High School says. “Because we have a smaller program, we are able to do more things and focus in on really understanding what we want to do after high school. Opportunities are readily available and the teachers work hard to be sure they are there for all students.
One of the ways Pioneer Tech is going beyond to help its students is by implementing a collaborative Career Readiness program. Through this new program, Pioneer Tech High School partners with local businesses to give students a chance to plan for their future and experience career opportunities they might not otherwise have exposure to.
Pioneer Tech students are required to complete a Senior Project in their final year of school. This project offers graduating seniors an opportunity to define and present where they see themselves in the future. Seniors talk about choices, responsibilities, answer citizenship questions, and share their aspirations for the next step after high school.
Joy Zomer, the director of the Career Readiness Program and teacher at Pioneer Tech, says career exploration is critical before the students graduate.
“Graduating seniors are asked to create a digital portfolio that includes a resume, cover letter, discussion of different careers they've reviewed, field trip notes, their best work and hopefully, a job shadow or two,” Joy says.
The digital portfolio guides students to take the proper steps in their career search, and teaches them important qualities that they need in order to be successful in a future position.
“I think that the portfolio is helping me be more professional,” Steven says. “If I go to a business and have a portfolio prepared to share what I know, who I am and what I have been involved in, it could definitely help me get that boost to get the job that I want. I am not a highly organized person on my own, so having the digital portfolio as part of a class requirement has really encouraged me to keep working on it."
While the face-to-face career explorations and resources have helped students get a better idea of their job strengths, faculty at Pioneer Tech are also getting a deeper understanding of student needs and interests.
“It was very interesting to hear students talk about their experiences,” says Jennifer VanOs, a member of Pioneer Tech's staff. “The program also allowed me to gain more insight into our students. For example, when I saw students tour Resthaven Nursing Home, some students I wouldn't have thought would fit well in that space did, and with others, I could tell it wasn't for them.”
The school partners with a number of community businesses and organizations and pairs businesses and students together based on how their work corresponds to student interests.
Omni Die and Engineering has partnered with the program since it began and has expressed a strong desire to invest in the students at Pioneer Tech.
“We are communicating to the children that no matter what job they hold––whether they want to be a janitor or the president of a company–– all are needed and important roles in our society,” Mark Perkins, plant manager at Omni Die & Engineering, says. “The more other companies can join in and help children see their options, the more prepared they will be when leaving school.”
Steven is excited about what his future holds since discovering his direction going through the program.
"We have the opportunity to go out and see our options at Pioneer Tech,” says Steven. “By visiting area businesses and learning about the possibilities of career choices, I learned that I want to do something in the medical field. I want to be a paramedic, and I will be taking a class to get certified next year.”
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