PIQUA — The Upper Valley Career Center Board of Education hosted a special meeting for invited guests on Wednesday as a way to collaboratively guide future planning for the school and its secondary programming.
Hosted by Dr. Jim and Linda Daniel, facilitators of Daniel Consulting LLC, the brainstorming/visioning session included input from former students, UVCC staff, and business leaders from around the community. State Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, was also in attendance.
Superintendent Dr. Nancy Luce opened the meeting by welcoming visitors and explaining the purpose of the evening. She reflected on the beginning of her career with UVCC and her reaction to the culture of the school.
“As I really got to know everyone, it struck me just how student-focused our staff is, and I think that’s demonstrated time and time again,” she said. “The other thing that’s a constant is our willingness to evolve.”
UVCC has a lot to celebrate, Luce said, including the fact that enrollment is the highest it’s ever been on the main campus, as well as in the satellite schools; the graduation rate is almost 100 percent; and over 95 percent of students, within the first six months after graduation, are employed in the military or pursuing a post-secondary option.
Luce noted it is that willingness to evolve which will allow UVCC to continue to successfully educate and prepare students to enter confidently into the work force.
“It’s important to us to really look to the future and hear from you all as to how you see us changing and what directions you think UVCC needs to go in,” she said. “Everyone here received an invitation based upon the fact that we want to hear from you.”
Hosts Jim and Linda Daniel have over 45 years of experience in education and business development/marketing, respectively, and now work through their consulting agency to promote growth within organizations.
“What we’re really trying to do is assist the organization in getting better,” Jim said.
The pair served as mediators for the evening, providing tools to encourage those in attendance to think critically and share candidly their thoughts and opinions for the future of UVCC.
”We’ve had the opportunity tonight to mix everybody up,” Jim said. “We’ve got board members, we’ve got external people, and we’ve got UVCC staff, at each of the tables. We want to be sure everyone has the opportunity to share.
“We’re looking at perceptions; at perspectives,” he continued. “One of the reasons we’re doing table discussions tonight, and having people from different parts of the organization sit together and share together, is because you all have different perspectives of UVCC.”
The session was split into four table discussions, each with a different topic.
The first discussion was titled, “What Will Matter Most?” Each group was encouraged to first think individually about their positive personal experiences with UVCC and use these experiences to determine aspects of UVCC that are important to its future success.
Steve Stamper, UVCC Exploratory STEM satellite teacher at Piqua Jr. High School, said the “quality over quantity” approach to producing great students is an important characteristic of UVCC, and noted that this type of education resonates with many people.
One of Stamper’s recommendations for future success was for UVCC to have closer contact with nearby school districts. He said many students are unaware of the Career Center as an option, while some are influenced by a stigma that attending a career center is somehow inferior to traditional high school.
Nicki Vogel, paraprofessional in early childhood development at UVCC, said her favorite experience is witnessing a student, who once struggled in tradition high school, attend UVCC and begin to succeed.
Andrew Snyder, UVCC high school recruitment coordinator, noted the importance of local employability. “Not only do the students need to be employable, they need to be employable in this area,” he said.
Zac Gordon, former UVCC student, pointed out the Career Center’s technological advances in education. “There’s not many high schools that have the ability to teach the subjects we do here,” he said.
The groups then went on to discuss three additional topics, including “Core Values,” “Not Yets,” and “The Future of Learning.”
Following discussion, each group designated a reporter to share the thoughts and ideas collected throughout the session.
According to Executive Assistant to the Superintendent Kelly Hobert, all input from the evening will be consolidated and used by the administrative team and board to determine what may happen now and in future at UVCC.
“It will be a guiding path for the Career Center,” she said.
Reach the writer at (937) 538-4825.