Spokane North Notes

A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary

September 15, 2014

Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink

Program coordinator and photo: Jim Minkler

          Save the date, social category:  A family outing for club members is scheduled 5:30-8:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, at Hidden Acres farm on Greenbluff.  Coordinator Jodi Harland said the club will buy the beverages and members will be asked for potluck contributions.  Sign-ups will start next week.

          Move draws near:  Remember, the club has just two more luncheons at the Red Lion River Inn.  Then the meetings move to the Lincoln Center, Lincoln and Sharp, starting Oct. 6.

Where there’s a skill, there’s a way

          Since about seven in 10 high school grads will be “working with their hands” as well as their brains, the efforts of schools like the NewTech Skill Center magnify in importance.

          Club members were greatly impressed on the NewTech tour last winter and loved the lunch prepared by the school’s culinary students.  Principal Will Sarett, Imagean impressive educator himself, updated the club at the Sept. 15 luncheon about Skill Center advances since the tour.

          NewTech, located at 4141 N. Regal, is an acronym for Northeast Washington Technical Sill Center.  It is a cooperative of 11 area school districts – many too small, he said, to afford or offer high-level career-path technical training on their own.

         Students ages 16-20, including home-schooled students, are eligible for any of the 22 programs from automotive technology to welding.  Course offerings include broadcasting, business, computer programming, dentistry, tourism management, nursing, robotics and engineering and veterinary assisting.

         Sarett is in his second year as NewTech principal, continuing an 18-year career as a teacher and administrator.  He is president of the state’s career education program association and a member of Spokane’s Workforce Development Council.

        The variety and high level of academic and technical offerings at NewTech and other similar skill centers is “one of the best kept secrets” in education, Sarett said.  A national consultant has been hired to “help connect with the kids” who might benefit from the skill-centered training, he said.

        With the high rate of retirements among aging Baby Boomers, Sarett said, “there is incredible opportunity for people who want to work with their hands.”

        Both the programs and physical plant at NewTech are expanding.

       Sarett said advanced-placement government studies, computer science and studio art have been added this year.  New building space of 33,000 square-feet will open next fall, housing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes, computer animation and medical assistance labs and a full chemistry lab.  A new meeting space for up to 400 people is part of the remodeling and expansion.  Working with club member Jim Minkler and other Community Colleges staff, NewTech finds ways for its classes to gain college credits.

        Personal development also is a NewTech priority, Sarett said.  Social skill development and a 22-item “behavior list” (number one: be on time) help assure that skill center grads “can perform verbally and technically,” he said.

        For students at other area high schools who want to sample NewTech offerings, Sarett said the skill center provides two-week summer academies, with 7-hour-a-day overviews of technical topics.

        In his role as principal, Sarett wants to get NewTech grads ready to qualify for many of the 150-certificated career paths in Washington.  In his role on the Workforce Development Council, he said, he “wants to help make sure Spokane is where the kids stay.”