High School Teachers Enhance Their Skills at Penn College

Published 07.19.2005


Tim Kaltenbach, a teacher from Clarion County Career Center, learns to use a piece of plastics molding equipment that is part of Penn College's Mobile Poly Lab. Teachers who receive summer training from the college's plastics faculty may use the equipment in their classrooms.During their summer break, high school teachers became students in classrooms and laboratories at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Through its Outreach for K-12 Office, the college offered hands-on training to the high school instructors to help keep them up-to-date with new technology and give their students a firm foundation in basic and advanced technical skills. Training was offered in culinary arts, computer-aided drafting, health sciences and plastics.

According to Jeannette L. Fraser, director of outreach for K-12, not only do teachers learn the proper techniques for skills they will need to teach their students, but they also get to converse with Penn College faculty and other high school instructors who teach the same subjects, sharing classroom issues and strategies.

Invitations to attend the training sessions were sent statewide and attracted teachers from as far away as Pittsburgh.

For many teachers, either technology or career emphasis has changed since they learned the skills necessary to teach their subjects. High school teachers attending a classical cuisine preparation course, for example, said that, when they attended college, they were taught cooking skills for the home, but many were not trained in restaurant skills and on industry equipment like that available in Penn College's labs.

Most came purely for the value of learning and updating their skills, they said, and did not need the continuing-education credits offered through the course. They said the experience also helped them to remember what it is like to be a student.

Five school districts were represented in a plastics course, through which educators were taught how to use the college's Mobile Poly Lab as a teaching tool for science and technology. The lab, which includes scaled-down, portable versions of industry-standard equipment, traveled to high schools for the first time in the 2004-05 academic year. This year, the five schools whose teachers attended training will be added to the lab's tour schedule.

The Mobile Poly Lab offers students in high schools around the state the opportunity to experience four of the major processes in plastics manufacturing, making them more aware of the careers available in the plastics industry. Qualified employees in the plastics industry are in high demand and are well-paid.

In some cases, Penn College faculty members have developed a curriculum the high school teachers may use in their classrooms. David A. Probst, assistant professor of drafting/CAD technology, developed a teaching plan to help high school teachers teach basic tolerancing skills to their students.

Still to come this summer is the opportunity for high school teachers to explore four health-sciences areas: dental hygiene, occupational therapy assistant, paramedic technology and radiography. Penn College faculty worked with teachers from Keystone Central School District, Lycoming Career and Technology Center, SUN Area Career and Technology Center, and Williamsport Area School District to develop short curriculum units − about a week long − that will help high schools introduce their students to various health-career opportunities.

During their visit to campus, college faculty will teach the high school teachers how to implement the curriculum units when they return to their classrooms.

"If we provide teachers with the curriculum and training, they will be more likely to present this information in their classrooms, providing their students with the knowledge and skills necessary for improved transitioning from high school into college," said Glenn R. Spoerke, a curriculum specialist in the Outreach for K-12 Office, who helped in the planning process.