I’ve watched it happen.
Last July, I wrote to you about my own struggle with the notion of a four-year degree versus some type of career-technical training for my daughter.
I gave our readers a little peek into my own life. My daughter graduated as valedictorian of her class and had taken College Credit Plus courses in high school, and the experience had affected her deeply. She was clear that she did not want to go on to college.
What? I’m a lifelong educator!
However, she identified her field of passion — music and video production — and she found a technical school to help her reach her goals.
I had to give up on my idea of what was the “right” education. And if you have been reading this monthly article for any length of time, you know that I am a superintendent at a career center.
Every day, I advocate that students should know there are multiple paths to a very successful future. Even while doing that and believing it wholeheartedly (or so I thought), I was struggling with my daughter choosing a path that wasn’t the path I had chosen.
As parents, we find out that if we teach our children how to problem-solve and think critically, they will, at one point, use those skills against us and prove us wrong.
My daughter just graduated with a certificate in music and video entrepreneurship, with a focus in video production, and even before she graduated, she was able to move to Chicago (on her own, no roommate!) to begin work. She is a freelancer working for no fewer than five companies completing work ranging from photography, social media, web design and video production.
She is 19. She has less than $10,000 of debt from her education, is living on her own, is working her own hours and is in love with her career choice. Although there are many four-year degree programs in her field, every single person working in the field with whom she has spoken has told her a four-year degree would be a waste of time.
Now, as we open another school year, I find myself more devoted to the idea of career-technical education than ever before.
In my professional life, I have seen it spark passion in students where there had been none. I have seen the least-engaged students become the most engaged, leading their peers in career-technical learning. I have watched students who had no direction light up with understanding of what their chosen career path will mean.
And now in my personal life, I have seen career-technical education open opportunities that as a parent I didn’t know existed. Things have come full circle.
As you read this, take a moment to think about the young people you know.
Maybe it is a grandchild, a son or daughter or the neighbor down the road.
How could you plant seeds for this child — seeds of wonder, seeds of exploration, seeds that grow a willingness to look at the path less taken? Could you encourage a parent to explore education options that you would not have explored earlier in your life?
Can you support a parent who is looking at the future of a child and thinking, “I just want to help him/her make the right choice, and I am confused myself about what that might be?”
We are here to help. We are glad to answer questions and take families on personal tours of the Tolles Career & Technical Center because all children and parents deserve to know all of the options.
Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center, which includes students from the Dublin and Hilliard school districts. Contact her at [email protected] tollestech.com.