Fort Dodge Community School District

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FDSH Gets Career Training Grant - from The Messenger

February 17, 2023

The goal of offering students real-world training will be a little bit easier for Fort Dodge Senior High School Industrial Arts teacher Andy Kavanaugh, thanks to some good news he recently received.

The Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council recently announced that Fort Dodge was one of 37 school districts to receive a STEM BEST + HD Program Award.

The program, which stands for "Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers" and "High Demand" brings schools and businesses together to provide students with real workplace experiences. It helps students discover businesses and careers in Iowa and gain career-ready skills.

Kavanaugh said the grant will help the Industrial Arts program purchase several new machines and allow it to partner with local businesses to create a curriculum that students will benefit from.

"It's a good partnership between our school and students and businesses," said Kavanaugh, who has been at the high school for 10 years. "It's a good program for our students to know what skills they need to get a job in industry if they want to."

The STEM Council Executive Committee reviewed and approved new or expanded partnerships supported by guidance, collaboration and financial support of up to $40,000 for each district, according to a release from the STEM BEST + HD program.

"The STEM Council is driven to connect schools and workplaces for the benefit of both youth and employers, and the STEM BEST + HD Program is a signature vehicle for that goal," said Jeff Weld, executive director of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council. "This latest expansion approaches a tipping point where career-linked learning is becoming the norm rather than the exception in preparing students for future Iowa careers."

The STEM BEST + HD Program encourages teachers and industry professionals to work side-by-side to develop a work-based learning model that incorporates STEM subjects like mathematics and science with experiential learning opportunities to emphasize high-demand skills for the workplace, according to the press release.

The Council's investment of professional and financial support can be used for curriculum development and coordination, educator training and development in workplace-classroom integration and preparing work-based learning environments.

Kavanaugh said the high school will be purchasing a new press brake, a new band saw and a new welding machine. The school was able to decide which equipment to purchase, he said.

Along with the new equipment, Kavanaugh said his classes will be partnering with several local businesses on projects and curriculum development.

"They'll help us figure out best practices for the equipment and help us design lessons around what's important to them," he said. "They'll communicate what skills they are looking for and we can take our lessons and match those skills."

Kavanaugh said his students will be collaborating with C&S Products Co. Inc., POET Bioprocessing, Frank's Auto Salvage, Webster County Conservation and the Industrial Mechanics Department at Iowa Central Community College.

"We'll design our lessons around what they tell us is most important," said Kavanaugh. "They tell us what they are looking for in employees and hopefully we can match those skills."

Kavanaugh said some of the projects include signs for Camp Wanoki and building roll-off dumpsters for Frank's Auto Salvage.

Kavanaugh said he plans to incorporate lessons based around the new equipment in all his classes, but it will most benefit his welding and fabrication classes.

To be considered for a STEM BEST + HD Program award, applicants were required to submit a comprehensive proposal that incorporates rigorous and relevant STEM curriculum, includes valuable partnerships with community businesses or organizations, aligns with STEM goals, addresses sustainability of the model program and evaluates the program's effectiveness.

Established in July 2011 via Governor's Executive Order, the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership of educators, companies and Iowa students and families addressing policies and programs designed to improve Iowa's educational system focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The 62-member STEM Council is co-chaired by Gov. Kim Reynolds and Foundation Analytical Laboratory Owner and Director of Technical Services Diane Young.

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