Agriscience explorationPublished 12:09pm Friday, February 14, 2014
Junior high students learn by doing in Kyle Woodard’s classroom/shop
More than 30 percent of Hartselle Junior High School’s students are enrolled in Kyle Woodard’s agriscience exploration classes.
They learn by doing – installing an electrical outlet in the classroom, prepping for a Future Farmers of America quiz bowl or building Adirondack chairs and picnic tables in the shop.
“The program offers something of value to all students,” said Woodard, “no matter if they are on the path to be a stay-at-home mom, a college professor or a robotics technician. Eventually, they all will be faced with doing simple things around the house such as changing a light bulb or fixing a leaky faucet. It’s also a step up for those considering careers in technical vocational fields such as welding, auto mechanics and robotics.”
Woodard teaches six classes totaling 140 students, including 25 girls. One-third of the course is devoted to classroom instruction, one-third to shop work and one-third to FFA functions.
The move of seventh and eighth grades to the former Hartselle High School campus this year provided Woodard the opportunity to transform an empty building into a safe and fully equipped shop.
“There was nothing but a couple of tables in here when we moved in,” Woodard said. “Thanks to the excellent support we’ve had from the administration and others, we now have a workshop that meets national business and industry standards.”
While honing their own skills with power and hand tools, the students are providing valuable assistance to teachers and support personnel in a variety of ways.
“We have built shelving for several classrooms and drags for baseball fields,” Woodard pointed out, “and now we’re building ramps for steps in the main hallway. It’s always a win-win when the students can learn by doing and help the school save money at the same time.”
Students also make Adirondack chairs and picnic tables in shop as a fundraiser for the agriscience program.
“We sell them at cost and ask the buyer for a donation,” Woodard said. “The profit goes back into the shop. This year we used the profit to purchase an $8,000 saw stop, MIG welder, plasma cutter, cordless drills and several hand tools.”
Each student who completes a year in the agriscience program receives a hunter education card, which is a requirement at age 16 to obtain an Alabama hunting license. In April, the students will have the opportunity to participate in a field day shooting exercise at the Hartselle Police Department shooting range, an event sponsored by Hartselle Gun Club.
Students will also visit Calhoun Community College later this year to learn about the career technical education program it offers to high school juniors, seniors and high school graduates.
“Career technical education is an integral part of the education process provided by Hartselle City Schools,” said Jerry Reeves, who directs the program as one of his duties at the central office.
“We have a four-year plan that connects with students as they move from junior high through high school,” he added. “Kyle (Woodard) is doing an excellent job at the junior high level, having taken an empty building and transformed it into a safe and efficient work place.”
“I took the class because I wanted to learn how to fix things at home when no one else is around,” said student Alex Letson.
“I like to work with my hands,” added Alec Lovett, another student. “It’s a lot of fun and could lead to a technical career like welding.”
February is Career Technical Education Month.