New Penn College/WVIA TV Series Connects Education, Careers

Published 01.13.2016

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Students and teachers who connect learning with real work experiences will be featured in a new series premiering this month on public television.

“Working Class” will encourage viewers to make an impact in the world by pursuing careers that reflect their personal talents and interests. The first episode in the series, which is produced by Pennsylvania College of Technology in partnership with WVIA Public Media, will premiere in Northeast Pennsylvania and the Central Susquehanna Valley on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. on WVIA.

Following the broadcast premiere, series content also will be shared via the Penn College and WVIA websites and on YouTube. Viewers also may follow the series on Facebook and Twitter.

Student video production assistant Kashiki E. Harrison views the website for “Working Class,” a new TV series produced by Penn College in partnership with WVIA, which will encourage viewers to make an impact by pursuing careers that reflect their personal talents and interests. Harrison, of Williamsport, and fellow student videographer Jeffrey A. Stanley, of Stewartstown, assist with the series.According to its producers, “Working Class” will promote career awareness and encourage hands-on activities to help students understand practical applications of math, science, reading and writing.

“History provides clues for solving present-day challenges, math explains the mystery behind technology, and communication helps us work together,” said Elaine J. Lambert, executive producer. “Teachers who help students relate academics with real-world scenarios create a vibrant learning environment.”

The series was inspired by audience response to a Telly Award-winning documentary, “Working Class: 100 Years of Hands-on Education,” produced by Penn College and WVIA to mark the college’s Centennial anniversary in 2014. That documentary aired on public television stations throughout Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

“Viewers told us that the historical documentary – which captured a century-old mission of combining academics and hands-on experience to prepare men and women for success in the workforce – was relevant for the 21st century,” Lambert added. “Many said the type of education chronicled in the film is needed today. We felt inspired to continue the story – to let audiences know there are teachers doing excellent work in this area today.”

Director, editor and videographer Christopher J. Leigh developed the series along with Lambert. The two also were involved in the production of the award-winning Centennial anniversary documentary.

The first episode of the new series, “Working Class: Dream and Do,” explores careers related to design. Viewers will have the opportunity to meet young designers and learn more about the past, present and future of design from Leonardo da Vinci to modern advances impacting design, such as 3-D printing.

“As adults, we may be tempted to tell budding young artists that opportunities for success in creative fields like design are limited,” Lambert said. “But if we look beyond celebrity artists and fashion designers, we will find professional designers working in a wide range of fields, including graphic design, Web and interactive media, architectural technology, industrial design, and engineering design technology. Design can be a very practical career choice.”

In addition to Penn College faculty, students, and children from the Dunham Children’s Learning Center on campus, the episode features segments shot at Bucknell University, Wellsboro Area High School, Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, and GE Inspection Technologies in Lewistown.

Penn College faculty members interviewed for the episode include Thomas E. Ask, professor, industrial design; D. Robert Cooley, assistant professor, anthropology/environmental science; Brian A. Flynn, department head, art and design; J.D. Mather, assistant professor, engineering design technology; David A. Probst, assistant professor, engineering design technology; Lauren A. Rhodes, assistant professor, mathematics; Nicholas L. Stephenson, instructor, graphic design; Katherine A. Walker, assistant professor and engineering design technology department head; and Rob A. Wozniak, associate professor, architectural technology.

Also featured are Penn College student designers Zachary G. Bird, of Williamsport, and Matthew H. Gordon, of Milton; Penny G. Lutz, director, The Gallery at Penn College; Joseph Schoenly, science educator and camp coordinator, Da Vinci Science Center; Drew C. Seeling, teacher, Wellsboro Area High School; Nathan P. Siegel, assistant professor, mechanical engineering, Bucknell University; and Andrea McDonough Varner, teacher, Williamsport Area High School.

Varner, while participating in a discussion with Penn College faculty, said there is a need for greater emphasis on active, hands-on experimentation in the learning process.

“The way traditional education might prepare our students for entering the real world may not be sufficient anymore,” she said. “We need thinkers. We need designers. We need to give our students, our children, these tools so that they know how they can participate in and mold their world.”

Ask encouraged viewers to connect their personal interests with practical career goals. “If I like to doodle, or if I like to draw or paint, or if I just have all these great ideas in my mind, what do I do with them? … how do you get a paycheck from something like that? That’s a big question,” he said.

The producers of “Working Class” believe the series will help students, teachers and parents who aspire to use education to build a foundation for a satisfying career and a rich and rewarding life.

“We encourage teachers and homeschooling parents to use the series video and resources offered online and through social media to enrich lesson plans and help inspire students to excel academically in order to be better prepared to excel in life,” Lambert concluded.

In the future, “Working Class” episodes will relate to careers in natural resources, energy and sustainability (episode two); computers, electronics and information technology (episode three); automotive technology, collision repair, automotive restoration, aviation, diesel and heavy equipment technology (episode four); engineering technologies, manufacturing and construction (episode five); business, health, human and legal services (episode six).

A blog, which expands upon the series content and addresses a variety of issues related to career awareness and education, and other details will be available at a website that will launch in conjunction with the broadcast premiere.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, visit online.