Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf made a visit to the Eastern Center for Arts and Technology Monday morning to talk about the importance of a career technical education and the many career opportunities that it can provide students.
“I think this kind of thing is really important,” said Wolf. “Kids need to grow up understanding that there are lots of options.”
The governor toured the facility, which serves ninth through 12th grade students in nine school districts including: Abington, Hatboro-Horsham, Springfield, Bryn Athyn, Jenkintown, Upper Dublin, Cheltenham, Lower Moreland and Upper Moreland. Wolf spoke with students as they gave demonstrations of their various fields of study including veterinary science, construction, welding and nursing.
“One of the questions I was asking was ‘How soon, how early should we make clear — that if you’re a young woman and you’re looking at your options — how soon should we make you aware that construction is one of the things you ought to be thinking about?’ I talked to someone who’s in construction and she said ‘third grade,’” said Wolf. “And I think that’s what the literature is saying. We ought to be doing a better job at that. That’s what I want to do and that’s what I think is so great about this place. They’re saying these are the options.
“It’s not just college it’s not just one thing. You have a whole lot of different options. You choose. You’re going to have to make these choices.”
There are more than 80 career technical centers in Pennsylvania that offer a combination of classes and hands-on learning in programs approved by the Department of Education. Thousands of students earn industry credentials or certifications for local jobs in high demand, so they graduate on a path for success.
Wolf’s PAsmart initiative is investing $70 million over two years to expand science and technology education, apprenticeships and industry partnerships, including $10 million for career technical centers. The Eastern Center for Arts and Technology will invest its share of the funding to create a robotics and automated technology program starting next school year. The Wolf administration also awarded Eastern a competitive equipment grant of $8,813 to help purchase three welding machines, according to a press release.
“We are honored that Gov. Wolf chose to tour Eastern today,” said Dr. Cathleen Plesnarski, executive director, Eastern. “We appreciate his support of career and technical education. Career and technical education provides cost-effective ways for students to explore, clarify and pursue their career goals and opens multiple pathways to success for our students.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who also took the tour of the school with Wolf, praised the instruction and career opportunities available to students.
“I thought it was a really wonderful opportunity to show the governor what we’re doing here at Eastern,” said state Sen. Maria Collett, D-12th Dist. “Because I want him to see the hands-on experience that these kids are getting, that they’re workforce ready, that they are going to go on to enter a workforce and maybe go on to some more educational opportunities, so that they can broaden further what they’re doing here.”