I am often asked, especially recently, what keeps me teaching? The answer seems obvious: My students. As a Career and Technical Education instructor who teaches aerospace, manufacturing and construction, my goal is to ensure students get the skills they need to pursue continued learning and rewarding careers after graduation. That goal remains the same no matter the learning format.

My students, like most of their peers, are starting the year with at-home learning. This format is still new, and we will no doubt uncover opportunities to improve along the way, but I want to assure students, families and our community of one thing: Your teachers are committed to a year of learning and growth.

I was proud of how students adapted last spring, staying committed amid the pandemic. I also knew that, heading into this year, I wanted to be prepared with a robust at-home learning curriculum, if needed. I want to deliver on the promise of a manufacturing education that gives students opportunity to explore and prepare for entry-level jobs, apprenticeships, college and the military. I want to keep them on track to graduate with options.

Lindbergh High School was one of the first schools in Washington to begin using Core Plus Aerospace, a two-year high school manufacturing curriculum developed and supported by local industry. We use it to teach fundamentals, build skills, and explore post-high school education and career interests.

Core Plus Aerospace students from Lindbergh have excelled in statewide manufacturing skills competitions and industry internships. They have received job offers before they graduate high school. They have gone on to earn certificates and degrees. I want students who are now learning from home to stay on track toward these kinds of opportunities. That is why, with support from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and local industry, I worked this summer with teachers from Bellingham and Snohomish to customize 10 units of the Core Plus Aerospace curriculum for remote and hybrid learning.

These remote learning units serve as the foundation for a robust manufacturing education and are now available to Washington schools. The units follow a “Read, Watch, Do” approach. Topic areas range from safety and standard operating procedures to materials science and drilling.   

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Students begin by reading an edited version of the original industry-developed presentations. The content is designed to be easy for high school students to navigate remotely. 

Next, students watch videos — filmed by me or another teacher — that reinforce the informational text and demonstrate core skills, proper tool use or hands-on activities. Last spring, I quickly realized that few manufacturing videos geared toward high school students were readily available. This new content is developed by Washington teachers for Washington students. It will be invaluable to me and hopefully others.

Lastly, students complete an at-home activity — such as modified versions of hands-on activities typically done in school, an assessment, discussion assignment or research. The adapted curriculum continues to meet Washington state learning standards. It also allows us to better identify students’ initial knowledge and track what they are learning.

We will no doubt face new challenges as we navigate this school year. We must be open to innovative solutions to address those challenges, and ensure we are supporting students as they explore and prepare for their next steps after graduation. Our adaptation of the Core Plus Aerospace curriculum is just one example of that effort.

I am ready to welcome students back and am confident that, when we can return to the classroom, they will be ready to put their skills into action.