Idaho Falls Democrat Jana Jones, seeking to replace retiring Superinten-
dent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, visited the Technical Careers High School last week to highlight her support for vocational programs in public schools.
Such programs help keep students who aren’t interested in “desk jobs” from falling through the cracks, Jones said during her visit.
“I’ve heard a lot about this school specifically,” Jones said. “It’s a real interest I have — making sure our schools have programs that can meet all kids needs, not just those kids who will go onto college.”
Students at the Bonneville Joint School 93 school, which opened in August 2012, split their days between hands-on learning in the school’s shops and core academic classes. They can graduate with professional certifications in areas such as automotive service, welding and computer repair.
Next year, the school plans to offer Emergency Medical Technician-Basic certification, as well as auto collision repair certification.
Such certifications, Jones said, can help students who enter the workforce after high school obtain a “strong, livable wage.”
“That’s how we stimulate the economy,” she said. “We have to have skilled workers.”
Principal Craig Miller said his program is unique in the state, providing a model that superintendent candidates would do well to study.
“It truly is about grabbing those students that never really had a lot of success in their core classes, but now they understand what it means and how to do it,” he said. “If she’s our next state superintendent, I think she needs to know about it.”
Jones said the program, which also tailors instruction in traditional academic fields, such as math and English, toward practical uses in the workplace, can be effective with “kids who learn differently.”
“They have access to pursue their interests,” she said. “I think these kinds of programs will really help motivate our kids. That applied learning is really important, and some kids learn better that way than just having a book to read.”
Jones faces GOP candidate Sherri Ybarra in November.