Trades deserve attention from new graduates

Day by Day
Trades deserve attention from new graduates

By LIZ THOMPSON

Oct 23, 2017
This Week News

I like to watch “This Old House” on PBS. I have always respected people who build, make and fix things.

The show is working with Mike Rowe, known for “Dirty Jobs,” on a Generation Next campaign to fill the skills gap in trades, which affects each one of us.

To think that every high school graduate should automatically go to a four-year college is short-sighted.

A 2016 survey by YouGov showed fewer than one in 12 students ages 15-18 attending school or college are being advised to seek work-related apprenticeships, according to Electrical Construction & Maintenance magazine.

In contrast, the survey reports, some 85 percent of students are encouraged to pursue further education after graduating high school. Just 7 percent are encouraged to consider finding a job in a skilled trade.

This compares to 31 percent encouraged to seek careers in medicine, education, law or finance, and 36 percent advised to consider careers in engineering.

For at least 30 years, the labor-market data reports only 25 percent of professions require a four-year degree, said Steve Lipster, director of the Electrical Trades Center in Grandview Heights.

“It’s gratifying to see a young person come into our program and realize they can do this — to feel that sense of accomplishment that they created something,” he said.

“The word is getting out about trades, but we still have a long way to go. We get applicants with bachelor’s degrees.”

After completing an electrician apprenticeship, people can earn $80,000 a year with full benefits and lots of overtime, Lipster said.

“It’s a very common attitude for schools not to encourage trades,” he said. “We can’t get in the door of most schools to talk with advisers or students. There is no more shop class or home economics.

“We have seen youth who cannot read a ruler or know how to use a socket set.”

“Made in America” ran for five seasons on the Travel Channel. It was hosted by actor John Ratzenberger, who became a carpenter at a young age, trained on the job. In an interview in Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Business magazine, he said:

“While I still had my show … I toured the country and noticed the average age of skilled tradesmen was 55-58. I started asking around, and wondering why there weren’t younger people coming into the trades that offer great salaries, futures, pensions and health insurance.”

He discovered a big reason was because schools canceled shop classes.

Knowing a trade is invaluable. It’s a misconception that skilled trades are for people with bad grades. In truth, trades are for creative people who like to work with their hands. Tradespeople need strong skills in reading, writing, math and science.

All careers are valuable. We want doctors, lawyers, teachers and others to have a college education.

What’s missing is the balance of people who build our infrastructure and keep it working — electrical, roadways, airports, water systems and sanitation, telecommunications and energy — and those who provide services, such as chefs, mechanics, dental technicians and beauticians.

Lipster said parents are starting to accept and understand the need. The onus of college debt is helping to swing the pendulum.

The Electrical Trades Center also offers a preapprenticeship that is less intense, in which students can learn if a skill suits them. It also teaches them work ethics for sustaining employment.

“We have students biking from the airport area to come to classes here on Goodale Boulevard. They are never late and work hard,” Lipster said.

“It’s hard to express the self-satisfaction of a job well done — a sense that all craftspeople contribute to society,” he said.

The center partners with Columbus State Community College and Franklin University — which also offer training in trades — and with local, regional and national organizations.

One way to set up our youth for success is to give them all the options for careers, including the skilled-trades route — built by tradespeople.

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Cursive-writing instruction has proven benefits

Day by day

Cursive-writing instruction has proven benefits
By
LIZ THOMPSON
May 27, 2015
This Week News

Westerville was a village when I was born. I innately knew my neighbors — along with people at church, librarians, teachers, firemen, policemen, doctors and all people in authority — were there to protect and care for me.

School was never an option for me, nor did I want it to be, at least till third grade. On the first day, a friend of mine was talking to me, yet I was put in the corner by my teacher. No excuses. I got my marching orders.

This was the year to learn cursive writing. I was working on my alphabet on lined paper, likely sticking my tongue out one side of my mouth in concentration, when my teacher peered over my shoulder.

“Fix that F,” she said sternly.

I tried again and again and I still didn’t have the top loop open enough — and she told me so. I was near tears when she said, “You’ll never learn to write, Elizabeth.”

I hear you — if these were my worst school experiences, I got off easy comparatively. I know this now, but then I did not. I worked to write better, and with my mom’s help, I succeeded.

Writing cursive was and still is much easier than printing. As a writer who relies on her computer, I still begin all my writing in cursive on paper.

Today I know many of these same figures of authority are working to protect children in much the same way, although laws and rules have changed.

One change found lacking in the Common Core is the removal of cursive-writing instruction from school curricula. This fact is up for discussion.

Two such protectors of education are state Reps. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City). They sponsored House Bill 146 in April, requiring cursive writing to be taught in all elementary schools.

Specifically, the bill requires: “Handwriting instruction in kindergarten through fifth grade to ensure that students develop the ability to print letters and words legibly by third grade and to create readable documents using legible cursive handwriting by the end of fifth grade.”

This bill, with 13 co-sponsors, including several minority Democrats, follows a state law that went into effect last year, requiring students to read at grade level before they are promoted to fourth grade.

Even in this digital and app-based era, if they cannot write it, they likely cannot read it.

“Research proves cursive writing is essential,” Brenner said. “There is no contraindication for it. The Common Core does not require this in the curriculum and we need to have it back.”

Brenner has served as vice chairman of the Ohio House Education Committee for three years and hears from people who are surprised it is not being taught. The vast majority of those are in favor of teaching cursive writing.

“Cursive writing is a necessity, like learning to read,” Brenner said. “The arguments (against it) are that it is a modern day. Even though we have calculators, students need to know the basics of math to connect. Writing cursive is literally connecting one letter at a time.”

In Psychology Today, William R. Klemm wrote that writing cursive develops eye-hand coordination; to write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed.

“Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual and tactile information. The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument,” he wrote.

Grossman said she knows technology is important, yet learning cursive is equally important for different reasons.

“Research conducted by Columbus-based research firm Saperstein Associates shows that handwriting is a foundational skill that positively can influence students’ reading, vocabulary, memory and critical-thinking abilities as well. Studies report that longhand writing has also been shown to assist kids with dyslexia, helping them to become better students. Studies indicate that individuals retain much more of the content when notes are taken in cursive,” she said.

“I have been amazed to hear from teachers, parents and friends how much they support requiring handwriting be taught in elementary school,” Grossman said. “This can be accomplished with as little as 15 minutes being spent on this per day and can also be incorporated into other subjects.”

The problems with Common Core should be replaced by common sense.

I obviously overcame my third-grade experience. What challenges us makes us stronger, so let’s challenge our children in a good way.

When we look over their shoulder, instead of saying, “You’ll never … ,” let’s say, “Here, let me help you.”

 

Guitar lessons live via Skype…

Dennis Whitt and I “starred” in our high school musical Showboat in 1969. He as a dashing Gaylord Ravenal and me as an adoring Magnolia Blossom. Go ahead and smile or laugh – I didn’t write the play but the music is spectacular to sing and easy to listen to.

Who would have guessed that 45 years later he would take his love of music and gift of teaching to the Internet?

The Internet was so far away from our thinking 45 years ago, we could not have imagined it: but it’s here now and taking guitar lessons online, face-to-face with your teacher is truly amazing – and I might add, convenient.

If you need to dust off your guitar or have always wanted to learn, at least basics, Dennis is the man to go to. Or maybe your child or grandchild wants to learn. This is a perfect gift any time of year or for any occasion.

Dennis has more than 30 years of guitar teaching experience privately and three years in public schools. He has performed hundreds of shows in nightclubs and restaurants, hotels and motels, private resorts and music festivals. Dennis has also been featured in newspaper articles, on television shows and radio programs.

About this online learning, in Dennis’ words:

“The guitar lessons are live webcam video guitar lessons via Skype. All that is required of the student in terms of technology is a free Skype account, installing the Skype application software, a webcam and either a USB headset or microphone plugged into a sound card.

“I can also chat and do file sharing through Skype such as PDF, Word docs, MP3s and more. Since I have my own Website at: http://www.classicfolkguitarlessons.com/ I can direct my students to specific URLs to view additional content, blog entries and “How To’s.”

“I have an appointment booking service that allows real time scheduling via my online calendar which doubles as a payment processor accepting all major credit cards and PayPal.  I offer a free introductory guitar lesson, followed by rates as follows:

  • $15.00 per 1/2 Hour
  • $20 00 per 45 minutes
  • $25.00 for 1 full hour

“I also offer payable in advance lesson bundles such as four 1/2 hour lessons for $49.95.”

Simple Gifts

High schooler believes in power of a simple gift
By LIZ THOMPSON
THISWEEKNEWS.COM
Thursday January 3, 2013 11:40 AM

She sees God in simple gifts.

“I trust in God more than ever (now) and make my decisions by His word and what He would do rather than what’s popular or what I want,” Kristina Myers of Grove City said. This year she was coordinator for Operation Christmas Child for her church, St. John’s Lutheran in Grove City.

Simple gifts, yes, but not simple decisions or tasks.

Kristina shadowed the coordinator of this project last year and knew that in order to do that job, she had to make some decisions. When she was not able to help as much as she wanted due to marching band competitions, she opted to drop band.

“I was sad to give up marching band, but I knew that this was the plan God had for me,” she said.

The Central Crossing High School sophomore chose instead to run cross country. Her coach, Doug Boggs, never blinked an eye when he learned what she was doing at her church.

“God provided me with an awesome coach who totally believes in Operation Christmas Child and putting God first,” Kristina said. “I never had to miss a meet but I did have to leave practice early quite a few times for things regarding this project. My coach was always very supportive.”

Doug said Kristina is a great person and hard worker, no matter what she’s doing.

“It truly has been a blessing to have Kristina and her family become a part of the cross country and track programs. Kristina’s mom and dad have been great helping out with the team needs. It’s obvious to see where Kristina gets her kind and giving spirit,” Boggs said.

This project, founded in 1990, is led by Samaritan’s Purse, an organization founded in 1970, to give kids all over the world something they normally wouldn’t have — a Christmas. Kristina said that churches and people across the United States take a simple shoebox, fill it with items that include toys, hygiene items, school supplies, other small items like socks or sunglasses and sometimes a personal note.

“This project is bigger than just shoebox gifts; it’s the power of a simple gift. This one shoebox brings the word of God into the life of a child.”

The work is done and Kristina Myers can look back with a grateful heart.

“If I had to thank one specific person it would be (one of my youth leaders) Laurie Pecuch or my mom,” Kristina said. “Mom taught me to love God, helped with transportation and anything that needed done.

“Laurie was a big help when it came to planning, organizing, getting in touch with others, and making the project something our whole church was excited to participate in.”

Pecuch said, “She is devoted to helping children in poverty-stricken countries know first-hand the joy that comes from receiving a gift of love at Christmas. Her devotion, sacrifice, and time spent in leading this project are noteworthy. She collected 169 shoeboxes full of gifts and love.”

Although Kristina coordinated these efforts, she said her family and friends provided invaluable support and flexibility. The church’s high school and middle school youth shopped and had a packing party. They put donated items and things they purchased with money gifts into the decorated shoe boxes, checking to make sure everything was ready before they were dropped off at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church — the official drop-off location.

The boxes soon were on their journey to a child somewhere in the world.

The idea that Christmas is a time for giving is nothing new to Americans. Often the gift giving and wish lists get out of hand and we don’t worry so much about the national debt as our own debt.

What do we have to sacrifice to buy the gifts on our list? Or should we simply rethink our gift giving and consider the real reason we have Christmas?

Kristina made her choice knowing the recipients will never know her name. She has heard stories how one shoebox changed a child’s life.

“I am so blessed to be able to show God’s love to others through this project, and tell people I don’t even know that I love them and that they have a Father in heaven who loves them even more. This project is life-changing.”

That’s what Christmas is about.

Fourth Graders at Grove City Christian School

The students of Sarah Stedtefeld read the book The Landry News by Andrew Clements. She asked if I would talk with them about writing for a newspaper. It was a great time and these – very tall – 4th graders were polite, enthusiastic and asked great questions.

Here they are and I’m the short one with gray hair in the back.