DeWine tours Lima Senior career tech programs

LIMA — With educators throughout Ohio observing February as Career Technical Education Month, vocational education in Ohio has been given some time in the spotlight. On Tuesday, that spotlight was centered on Lima Senior High School as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine paid a visit to see some of the school’s career tech programs in action.

Tuesday’s visit came in the wake of the school’s career tech programs receiving positive reviews at the state level.

“We scored four out of five stars on the career tech report card, so we started talking about how we can celebrate our programs and our teachers in the programs,” Lima schools Career Tech Director Frank Kohlhofer said. “Inviting the governor was definitely something that was on our list.”

More Lima Senior students have been opting for a vocational career pathway, studying in such programs as construction trades, early childhood education, engineering technology, graphic communications and audio engineering. On Tuesday, DeWine toured Lima Senior’s culinary and food service management, automotive engineering, patient care technology, welding and metal fabrication and agricultural and outdoor occupations programs.

After the tour, DeWine said he was impressed with the program, especially given that 70 percent of juniors in the school are participating in one of the career tech programs.

“Whether it’s welding or auto mechanics, it’s just fun to see them excited,” he said. “What you want for your own kids and your grandkids is to find something they get really excited about and something where they can make a living and raise their family.”

Along with the opportunities provided to students to forge new careers, DeWine also praised this kind of educational program for the benefits it offers the state and its economy.

“We’re creating more jobs in Ohio every single day than we have people to fill them,” he said.

DeWine hopes to see more investment from the state into programs like this, especially after hearing about waiting lists to enter these programs due to lack of space.

“One thing we’ve heard today here is that when you look at the medical field with students wanting to be nurses, there’s a waiting list, and we don’t want there to be a waiting list,” he said. “If someone wants to get into that field and work hard, we want them to be able to do that.”

Kohlhofer extolled the value of programs like this, especially for students who may not otherwise be as successful in a traditional classroom environment, a value seen in the fact that more than 90 percent of Lima Senior students in these programs have gone on to complete their high school education.

“They choose to be here,” he said. “They find something they’re interested in. It’s a lot easier to get a kid to come to school when they enjoy what they’re doing instead of forcing them to take academic classes that may be boring. We even have a lot fewer discipline issues because the children choose to be here.”

Tavaris Williams, a senior in the culinary arts program, shared his experiences with the governor, including their preparations for an upcoming skills competition Saturday.

“He came in and kind of got to see a peek of what we have going on with that and what we have to do for that,” he said. “[Speaking with DeWine] was definitely an experience. Not everybody gets to do it.”