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Advisory board brings teachers and industry together

At Harrison Preparatory School, video production students have the chance to get creative. With access to a working television studio and top-of-the-line equipment, the sky is the limit for the types of video projects they can create.

Those projects leave Harrison Prep technology teacher Justin Gorman with a dilemma. His students’ projects take up a lot of digital server space. He needs to find a way to get their assignments off the server and stored somewhere that can handle their outsized files.

Luckily, he has somewhere to turn. The Clover Park Career and Technical Education (CTE) advisory board connects Gorman with industry professionals and instructors from local community and technical colleges. He brought up his storage conundrum at a recent meeting and the group was flush with suggestions.

“Advisory is what drives the bus on CTE,” Gorman said. “We talk about everything from what kind of skills students need to what kind of technical equipment they need to be familiar with.”

The advisory board advises, assists and provides support and advocacy for the district’s various CTE programs. Meeting quarterly, advisory board subcommittees help educators develop CTE curriculum and understand what kind of skills employers and colleges are looking for students to possess coming out of high school.

Relationships with industry professionals are essential for offering high-quality CTE courses for students. Advisory boards help build those relationships.

 Clover Park High School forensics teacher Gretchen Williams utilizes her relationship with the Thurston County Coroner’s Office in her class every day. She received hands-on training as a reserve deputy coroner and being able to bring the reality of the job into her classroom creates a more vibrant learning experience for her students.

“It’s basically a way to get a dose of reality,” Williams said. “The advisory board allows me to ask questions of my person at the coroner’s office about basic logistics and updated techniques.”

Advisory board subcommittees meet three to four times each year, but members of the advisory board can also contribute as guest speakers in the classroom or by providing students with opportunities for job shadowing or field trips to see the career in action.

Diane Carver, director of career and college readiness, organizes and leads the advisory board. One of the major aspects of advisory that she focuses on is ensuring students can learn with the best technology.

“One of our requirements for CTE is that we try to meet industry standards,” Carver said. “Members of the advisory board can help provide input on what that standard is and how we can meet it.”

Industry standard can mean high-quality cameras for photography courses or access to 3D printers for technology students. Having industry professionals and college instructors to help advise on technology purchases ensures students have the tools they need to master available to them in middle and high school.

Two students work with a video camera