Educators learn about the trades

KCSD teachers participate in week-long externship

July 28, 2020

Nine educators from the Klamath County School District this month got a behind-the-scenes look at high-wage, high-demand jobs in construction and manufacturing as part of a program that aims to connect area teachers with leaders in trade industry.

Laura Nickerson, a robotics and science teacher and STEM&M director at Mazama High School, was part of a group of educators who participated in the Educator Externship Opportunity, organized by Southern Oregon Education Service District in partnership with Willamette ESD and Associated General Contractors. The Klamath County School District teachers joined 38 educators from around the state who participated in the week-long program.

“The point was to educate teachers about trade opportunities so they can create lesson plans that may get students more interested in trade jobs,” Nickerson said. She plans to create a unit on electricity and circuitry for her engineering class.

The group toured Bogatay Construction and Rocky Mountain Construction, among other businesses, visited an active asphalt quarry, and talked with industry leaders and workers about their path into the trades.

“We encourage kids to go to college, which is still a wise move, but I didn’t realize how many training opportunities and high-paying jobs in the trades are available,” Nickerson said.

For example, she said, Northwest College of Construction in Portland offers free tuition for students who attend all four years. “There are openings every year, and they struggle to get qualified applications,” she said.

Meghan Miller, who teaches agriculture science at Lost River Junior/Senior High School, also chose to participate in the externship. She said the connection educators made with local business owners are valuable.

“I will definitely be adding more diversity in my ag mechanics class on the opportunities that the trades offer,” she said. “So many students are very hands-ons and not destined for the typical college experience.”