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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Working hard at work worth doing

In District 49, we honor and invest in career and technical preparation. Theodore Roosevelt, one of our most quotable presidents, once reminded us that, ìFar and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.îI was reminded of Rooseveltís wisdom on the first day of this school year when I witnessed a class full of students at Patriot High School receiving complete tool kits on their first day in a residential construction program. (We are grateful to Loweís and the Home and Building Association for their generous donations to the program.) Those students spent the first day unboxing and organizing the hammers and measuring tools, wrenches, squares, saws and screwdrivers that are the tools of the trade. When they graduate, those students will take the tools with them, as they step into a career building homes, businesses and communities.Just up the road, students at Falcon High School began building a self-contained network of hubs, switches, routers and cables. They added server and client computers with wireless access points and other peripherals. Building networks, probing for vulnerabilities, patching security flaws and detecting attacks are all part of the training for IT security technicians. For students who plan to build and defend our nationís computer networks, these are the techniques and tools of the cybersecurity trade.At Sand Creek High, future engineers use sophisticated software to model objects and machines. They calculate dimensions, degrees, arcs and insets. They learn about density and volume ó durability and precision. They grow concepts into designs, and then use 3-D printers to produce working prototypes. These imaginative learners are inventing the devices and equipment we donít yet know we need. Imagination, design and production óthese are the tools of the engineering trade.At Vista Ridge, classrooms hum with the pilotís jargon of pitch and yaw, beacons and gyroscopes. Aspiring aviators learn flight rules for visual reckoning before they develop proficiency reading instruments, and following a flight plan. Communicating with air traffic control, recognizing and avoiding hazards, and completing safe flights on schedule make up the training programs for private and commercial pilots. With a generation of pilots soon to retire, the skills our students are building have them heading toward a future where the sky is no limit.All of these students are already practicing the real work of professional trades. Under the experienced eyes of mentor-teachers, they are building, networking, designing and piloting toward the future. In every school, these programs and dozens more are restoring honor and value to the tradition of professional and technical careers.Over the last several decades, our schools and our culture have emphasized liberal arts degrees and underemphasized technical. This has sent an unfortunate message that ìcollege for allî is the better path, and excellence in technical professions is somehow second rate. In District 49, we aim to reset that perspective. We respect and honor the expertise and excellence it takes to build businesses, communities, ministries and families. The persistence and precision that make up mechanical intelligence are essential to thriving communities. Without the service and leadership of technical professionals, our communities would literally collapse around us.The work of our students and teachers in Career and Technical Education inspires every learner in District 49. Thatís why we were pleased when a senior aide from Sen. Michael Bennetís education office joined us to learn about our programs this August. We hope the example of our students and teachers will inspire even more national support and recognition for the importance of professional and technical education.Our goal is that visitors from every part of society will learn with us and work at developing programs that lead students into successful futures. Every school and every student deserves the option to choose excellence in technical professions alongside further study and higher education. We support our students as they begin their exploration. We equip them with advanced skills through concurrent enrollment and technical college. We hire our graduates and celebrate their contributions because building our future community is work worth doing.

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