Looking back – the joy of learning at Hanna
By Ron Bilberry — Hanna Academy, formerly known as Archbishop Hanna High School, will soon complete its first year of incorporating a new Career Technical Education (CTE) program. For decades, we have benefitted from wonderful art, woodshop, welding, and agricultural programs, which were offered as electives. Now, every student’s school day consists of core classes as well as the CTE curriculum. The tiered program is designed to showcase career pathways with opportunities to ultimately participate in local internships as part of their educational experience.
I have taught at Hanna for over two decades now and one of the things I love most about teaching in the CTE program is the practical, interactive approach to learning. Rather than simply reading about a subject or memorizing facts and figures, students have the opportunity to work with equipment, tools, and materials.
This type of experiential learning allows me to focus on teaching career readiness and practical skills that are highly valued by employers. Instead of just teaching theory or abstract concepts, I can help students develop the specific skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their chosen field. This can be a powerful motivator.
When a new student enters Hanna Academy, they are considered “year one” in the CTE Wheel. The Wheel consists of four sections which include Culinary, Construction Trades, Agricultural/Health, and Technology for Industry. The student gets a preliminary introduction to each course and then rotates through the remaining three.
For example, in the segment that I teach, which is Technology for Industry, students get three weeks each of introduction to computer basics, engineering/mechanics (while working on our electric vehicle) and creating and editing digital media. The goal for the first year is to present a variety of career pathways to allow the students to discover what they are passionate about.
As any teacher can probably attest, my proudest moments are when I can help kids find joy in learning.
“My favorite thing about this class is that we have to problem solve, we have to critically think, we have to stay on our toes. On the electric vehicle there are little fuses and if one fuse is off the entire vehicle is off and that is just my bread and butter,” one of my students said of the engineering/mechanics class.
In the fall of 2023, Hanna Academy‘s year two students will decide which of the CTE programs they are most passionate about. They will then have the opportunity to gain more extensive skills in that area as well as exposure to local industry. We believe that giving students the opportunity to experience areas that they are most interested in will provide them with valuable job skills that will set them up for success.
We look forward to seeing how this new program will benefit our students and their learning experience, as well as the community at large. Ron Bilberry is a Hanna Academy Career Technical Education Instructor. For more information about Hanna Academy, call 707.933.2560 or email [email protected]