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Animal hearts, computer cables and culinary classes all in one place

Stephanie Ziebarth

Yesterday my younger daughter got to take a close look at some dog and cat hearts, specifically ones infested with worms. This opportunity might sound gross to you, but it was a valuable experience for seven girls exploring a possible veterinary career. These homeschooled students were on a field trip at Franklin County's own CareerTech (http://www.franklinctc.com/).

My interactions with CareerTech seem to be increasing rapidly. First, the exchange student I hosted wanted to check out the Information Systems and Technology program. She and I were both highly impressed after touring the school with assistant director Ben Mordan. Claire (our exchange student) signed up, and I raved about the school to the rest of the family over the dinner table. Claire had a very positive semester there that changed her entire direction in life.

One year later, my oldest child decided to check out the options at CareerTech. Abigail is interested in owning and operating her own bakery someday. As of now, she plans to attend college for business. However, she will also need culinary education. She has learned a lot on her own, through Joy El (www.joyelcamps.org) and with others' help, but she decided she might as well take advantage of this 'free' (taxpayer-funded) option while still in high school. She visited the culinary arts program at CareerTech, was impressed, and now heads to CareerTech on the bus every day.

Abigail made some major changes to her educational plan in order to switch to CareerTech. She transitioned from her advanced placement and honors courses to this technical training. Why did she do this? Two reasons immediately come to mind.

One, she loves what she is learning. She enjoys each day's activities and can challenge herself in a field that interests her.

Probably more significant, testing this course of study enabled her to discern whether her intended career path was right for her. It is one thing to find a career appealing; it's another to determine whether you are actually committed enough to study and practice it every business day (and possibly more). We are thankful Abigail has learned that she is on the right track without us having to spend thousands of dollars on courses that will end up being used as general credits in college.

I have become a big believer in CareerTech. Not only does it prepare some students to immediately enter the workforce after high school, but it helps countless others decide whether or not a specific field is right for them.

That is what happened during yesterday's field trip. All the girls who participated in this Franklin Learning Activity Group (http://franklinlearningactivitygroup.yolasite.com/) field trip were middle school students interested in a possible veterinary career. After learning to restrain animals (using a model), hearing about the cleaning of bodily fluids, viewing the hearts and other fascinating specimens, two girls decided that a veterinary career is not in their future after all. The eighth grader participating was ready to sign up for the CareerTech program on the spot. And the remaining four decided to keep moving forward toward the fascinating possibilities within the field.

So, a big thank you goes to instructor Lisa Cook and her amazing assistants for providing us with an excellent learning experience. And we also thank you for possibly saving two families tens of thousands of dollars.