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Construction, engineering focus of new learning community

From left, construction teacher Glenn Owen and engineering and architecture teacher Larry Stokes proudly display the crest of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Academy of Construction and Engineering. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, construction teacher Glenn Owen and engineering and architecture teacher Larry Stokes proudly display the crest of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Academy of Construction and Engineering.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The next school year at Marysville-Pilchuck High School will bring with it a new Small Learning Community.

Starting with the 2009-2010 school year, the M-PHS Teaching and Technical Academy will be no more, and in its place will be the Academy of Construction and Engineering.

ACE Principal Shawn Stevenson, engineering and architecture teacher Larry Stokes, construction teacher Glenn Owen and CTE Director Susan Longstreth sat down with The Marysville Globe to discuss the changes that the new SLC will bring, as well as its benefits to students.

The teaching component of TTA is being incorporated into all the SLCs, while automotive studies are being moved over to Pathways of Choice. Stevenson explained that these changes are designed to give ACE a sharper focus on engineering and construction. At the same time, he emphasized that broad skills such as problem-solving and team-building are part of the curriculum, which he noted will prepare students for a variety of post-graduate options, up to and including four-year universities, regardless of what careers they eventually choose.

“It’s not just training you to swing a hammer,” Owen said. “These students’ learning experiences won’t be one-dimensional. Classes will include a fusion of the designing and building aspects. They’ll be required to take internships and job shadows. It won’t just be me talking about the construction business.”

While Owen described a collaborative and hands-on learning process, he and Stokes also pointed to their decades of experience in their respective fields, which includes 20 years in engineering for Stokes and 30 years in construction for Owen, as resources to draw upon when educating their students.

“They need to know why they need to do things a certain way,” Owen said. “Real-life applications are the best learning tool. With algebra, they’ll see why Pythagorean theory is important when they have to build things. When they can see it on paper and see it in real life, they can see the relationship between the two.”

“We’re trying to bring the real world into the classroom,” Stokes said.

ACE requires four years of math and three years of science, as part of its commitment to preparing students for college, but Longstreth, like Owen, sees ACE as training students to be versatile and adaptable to any number of possible career choices.

“Problem-solving skills make you more employable whether you’re going to college or taking other advanced training,” Longstreth said. “You have to be able to think on your toes.”

“I want students to be thinking,” Owen said. “If something’s not coming out how they planned, they need to be able to ask themselves, ‘What’s wrong, and how do we solve it?’ We’re passionate about this.”

The Marysville-Pilchuck High School Academy of Construction and Engineering Web site is located at www.msvl.k12.wa.us/secondary/ace, and you can call them at 360-657-0934.

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