A room that had previously only been a portal to the World Wide Web now houses a roadmap for the future of every graduating student from Sealy High School.
Dr. Jeff Koch, director of Career and Technical Education and the College and Career Center, stressed that the map he lays out may not always lead to a college and that he and his team are aiming to help students find success on whatever path they wish to follow.
“The problem is that for 25 years we’ve been preaching that [college] is for everyone but it’s not,” Koch started. “We’re getting ready to have a huge wave of skilled workers and tradespeople who are getting ready to retire and we don’t have people to fill in for them. We’re talking about jobs like welders, machinists, HVAC, construction; people who can make a very good living.”
He went on to pose a question as to how they can shift the paradigm back to the trades after the college route had been emphasized so highly. One big mover could be this new College and Career Center but Koch mentioned he couldn’t take full credit for its construction in the confines of Sealy High School.
The main person behind that initial effort was Superintendent Sheryl Moore, and Koch was sure to mention in the interview process that he would fit the bill for this job perfectly as it would truly be taking him full-circle in this industry, but more on that later.
He mentioned Moore’s thought process of having this center available for students to come in and ask questions of someone who is well-versed in the college scheme and will be able to provide helpful suggestions on what to do next, an important piece of vocabulary.
“I’m not making decisions for them,” Koch said. “I’m just coming out and saying, ‘Here are your options.’”
However, these options are not strictly for the students’ piece of mind, but they also help the parents of these students begin to narrow down their responsibilities as well.
“Parents can get overwhelmed if this is the first child and they have to fill this stuff out and meet all these deadlines,” Koch stated. “So I be sure to hand out my email and my phone number and let them know if they have any questions to let me know.”
In addition, he also said that the center is aiming to provide an evening workshop on a different facet of the college decision process every month for parents to come and get information.
On top of that, Koch mentioned a want to extend the center’s availability to not only the parents of these students taking the next step but also for community members past the age of the traditional age of college students but still looking for further education.
“It’s a center for the community, if someone’s trying to get a GED or take some continuing-ed classes at Blinn we’re going to get them lined up,” Koch said, mentioning that this job has been what he had been looking to do for some time.
“I told Sheryl when I was interviewing that this position will take me full-circle because it was the CTE program in high school that got me interested in all of this,” he stated. “I told my dad before he passed that this is really what I wanted to do but I knew along the way I had to do some other things.”
Some of those other things included teaching at two and four-year colleges as well as experiences as a country extension agent for agriculture and 4H livestock.
“Being right there on both sides of it, on academic and on workforce, on two-year and on four-year, I’ve been in the real world and I’ve worked but this allows me to come full circle and to give back to something that has meant a lot to me in my lifetime.”
Similar to a circle, there is no end in sight as Koch also mentioned a construction of relationships with businesses in town to create a job and internship board for students to start getting experience before really getting into an industry.
“Companies can post their jobs and we’ll do it as an actual board but also online and try to match students skills to interest to jobs that are out there to the best of our abilities.”
At the end of the day, the biggest thing Koch is attempting to accomplish with this center is providing students with “Solid information for them to make a sound decision.”
“To help kids understand that here are your options, and there’s a lot out there,” Koch noted. “I can’t make the right decision for you but I can share experiences and I can share with you ‘Okay this is what you want to do? Here’s your roadmap, how do we get there?’”