Reader news: Ridgewater College partners with area high schools for hands-on learning opportunities – West Central Tribune

Wilmar and Hutchinson – Fingers-on studying is a good way to study technical expertise. When highschool lecturers wanted to advance their expertise to make higher use of their newest know-how, they turned to Ridgewater Faculty for assist. School and employees have been blissful to reply the decision with devoted communications.

“Ridgewater is a group school,” stated Amy Birkland, Ridgewater Admissions and Outreach Specialist. “We’re right here as a useful resource, and we’re at all times seeking to collaborate and make significant connections with highschool college students, lecturers, and counselors to discover careers, group outreach, and partnerships.”

It was actually a partnership — a partnership with Steve Homberg, then Director of Outreach for the Minnesota Transportation Middle of Excellence, that set the wheel to serve and help excessive faculties within the space.

When new agriculture trainer Cassidy Withoff attended a small-engine Teaching Workshop final summer season, she had no thought how useful a gathering with Coach Homberg could be for her and her college students at Buffalo Lakes-Hector-Stewart Excessive College (BLHS).


Takeover Trainer Day at Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Excessive College was a possibility for highschool lecturers and college students to enhance their technical expertise and discover careers in agriculture, manufacturing, automotive, and welding by working with Ridgewater Companions for a day. BLHS teacher Cassidy Withoff, left, learns from machine software teacher Greg Ryder how a pc can run a plasma water desk to chop metal sheets into usable shapes and marks.

Contributed/Ridgwater Faculty

As a brand new trainer, Wiethoff expressed concern to Homberg about having technical consultants go to her classroom. Homberg quickly related Withoff, Birkland, and colleague Judy Parka of the Minnesota Agricultural Middle of Excellence generally known as AgCentric. Collectively, they discover methods Ridgewater can help BLHS and advocate for Profession and Technical Schooling (CTE) pathways.


A few dozen Ridgewater technical college, help employees, pupil ambassadors, and Minnesota State outreach companions headed to BLHS on Trainer Acquisition Day for the primary time. Along with aiding the coaches, they’ve reached out to greater than 100 highschool college students in grades 9 by means of twelve.

About Ridgewater:

Ridgewater Faculty is a group and technical school with campuses within the central Minnesota communities of Willmar and Hutchinson. The school serves greater than 5,000 college students by means of practically 100 tutorial applications and greater than 68,000 coaching hours for people and firms by means of custom-made coaching and persevering with schooling. The school is a member of the state of Minnesota and is accredited by the Greater Studying Fee of the North Central Affiliation of Schools and Colleges.

Minnesota is residence to 30 group and technical faculties and 7 public universities, serving about 340,000 college students. It’s the third largest system of two-year faculties and four-year universities in the USA.

“The purpose was to do a favor to Cassidy and Gil Grams, who’re native CTE instructors,” Birkeland defined. “That is Cassidy’s first yr as a trainer, so our purpose was to ensure she felt supported in her new function by letting her know that Ridgewater had the assets to help her classroom. With excessive faculties combating bus bills and a scarcity of minors, we requested Cassidy, “Can we go exterior to you!?”

Wiethoff welcomed the invitation, so 5 Ridgewater applications took their exhibits on the highway.

“It was a very nice day,” Witov stated. “It was nice to see these youngsters having a lot enjoyable studying.”

She had one pupil’s welding expertise that he did not need to depart to go to his subsequent class. One other pupil informed Wiethoff that he had improved a lot that welding was all he wished to do now.

“As an undergraduate trainer of technical trades, I’m at all times humbled to step into the atmosphere of our secondary establishments to soak up what they’ve to show when it comes to area, gear, and assets,” stated Greg Ryder, Ridgewater Machine Device Teacher. “Gifted lecturers jogged my memory of the significance of working collectively, collaborating, and being human.”

Ryder taught Wiethoff some fundamentals to have interaction her college students within the faculty’s laptop numerical management (CNC) instructors to discover job alternatives in manufacturing, and launched her to a computer-controlled plasma-powered water desk to chop metal sheets into usable shapes and signal work.

KellyRuewithVirtual RealitypainteratBLHS_m.jpg

An automatic digital actuality (VR) portray sales space is a success for Buffalo Lakes-Hector-Stewart Excessive College college students who go to a body-worn station operated by Ridgewater’s Kelly Rue, proper.

Contributed/Ridgwater Faculty

Automotive commerce instructors Kevin Larrison and Kelly Rowe confirmed college students how the ignition system works in a mannequin automobile, relating this to the small engines the scholars have been engaged on in school. Additionally they launched them to screening instruments for diagnosing issues similar to abnormalities.

“The digital actuality sketch sales space was nice — my youngsters have been nonetheless speaking about it after lunch,” stated Withoff.

Ridgewater’s meat-cutting teacher Sophia Toms spoke with the meals science college students, sharing particulars about this new program and the performance potentialities.

Different ag matters and actions throughout trainer acquisition included undergraduate tales about how internships join studying to future careers, the significance of agricultural commodity advertising and marketing, generator disassembly, and practices to assist individuals be good stewards of their land and soil.

“The good a part of at the present time is that as college students discover totally different actions, they’ll relate these experiences to careers for additional exploration,” stated Tammy Howe, Ridgewater Agriculture Coordinator. “There are such a lot of nice jobs.”

“Being able to work straight with the scholars was essential,” stated Ridgewater Welding Teacher John Travis. The go to helped him understand the day by day problem some highschool lecturers face attempting to soak up a lot content material in 50-60 minute courses when that point additionally contains preparation and scrapping. “We’ve invited lecturers to return to Ridgewater so we will proceed to construct this relationship.”

Marshall Coaching Connection

Marshall Excessive College trainer Michael Braithwaite just lately acquired a Launch Your Future Immediately (LYFT) grant to buy two automobile trainers—one for steering and suspension and one for braking. The issue was integrating them into the classroom.


Marshall Excessive College trainer Michael Braithwaite caused 50 of his profession and technical schooling (CTE) college students with him to see the Ridgewater Faculty campus and discover the automotive and welding applications with Ridgewater college member John Fritton, Middle.

Contributed/Ridgwater Faculty

“Via our partnership with the Minnesota Transportation Facilities of Excellence, Steve Homberg made us conscious of the coaches and that Michael might use some assist studying how one can successfully run the coaches along with his college students,” stated Birkeland.

After a couple of discussions Braithwaite got here to Ridgewater in December to study from college member John Fritton and caused 50 college students to study the fundamentals with him.

“Our Faculty of Automotive Service Know-how shortly supplied help when approaching the thought of ​​coaching each college students and instructors,” Birkeland stated.

“I realized proper with the scholars,” Braithwaite stated, “however then over lunch the college at Ridgewater confirmed me all the additional actions I might do with the instructors and urged some instruments our faculty would possibly contemplate buying to reinforce the machine studying expertise even additional.”


Marshall Excessive College trainer Michael Braithwaite, left, realized the ins and outs of studying and educating with a automobile teacher from Ridgewater college member John Fritton.

Contributed/Ridgwater Faculty

To broaden the impression of the go to, Birkeland additionally organized for the scholars to discover different areas they have been excited about: bodywork collision restore and welding.

College students experimented with a transmission dynamometer, engine test instruments, diagnostic gear, a robotic welder, a welding simulator, and a digital actuality portray system.

“It was actually good for all of us,” stated Braithwaite.

As a present agricultural schooling trainer, he is excited to make use of the brand new instructors and expertise in his automotive courses now, but in addition when his highschool opens a brand new Profession and Technical Schooling (CTE) middle subsequent yr the place he’ll train superior automotive and superior welding courses.

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