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 be taught technical expertise. When highschool academics wanted to advance their expertise to make higher use of their newest know-how, they turned to Ridgewater School for assist. School and workers have been pleased to reply the decision with devoted communications.

“Ridgewater is a neighborhood faculty,” stated Amy Birkland, Ridgewater Admissions and Outreach Specialist. “We’re right here as a useful resource, and we’re at all times trying to collaborate and make significant connections with highschool college students, academics, and counselors to discover careers, neighborhood 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 colleges 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 can 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 academics 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 School

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


A couple of dozen Ridgewater technical school, help workers, scholar 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 via twelve.

About Ridgewater:

Ridgewater School is a neighborhood and technical faculty with campuses within the central Minnesota communities of Willmar and Hutchinson. The faculty serves greater than 5,000 college students via almost 100 educational packages and greater than 68,000 coaching hours for people and corporations via personalized coaching and persevering with training. The faculty is a member of the state of Minnesota and is accredited by the Increased Studying Fee of the North Central Affiliation of Faculties and Faculties.

Minnesota is house to 30 neighborhood 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 US.

“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 verify she felt supported in her new function by letting her know that Ridgewater had the assets to help her classroom. With excessive colleges battling bus bills and a scarcity of minors, we requested Cassidy, “Can we go outdoors to you!?”

Wiethoff welcomed the invitation, so 5 Ridgewater packages took their reveals on the street.

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

She had one scholar’s welding expertise that he did not need to go away to go to his subsequent class. One other scholar advised Wiethoff that he had improved a lot that welding was all he needed 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 absorb what they’ve to show by way of house, gear, and assets,” stated Greg Ryder, Ridgewater Machine Software Teacher. “Gifted academics jogged my memory of the significance of working collectively, collaborating, and being human.”

Ryder taught Wiethoff some fundamentals to interact her college students within the college’s pc 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 successful 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 School

Automotive commerce instructors Kevin Larrison and Kelly Rowe confirmed college students how the ignition system works in a mannequin automotive, relating this to the small engines the scholars have been engaged on in school. Additionally they launched them to screening instruments for diagnosing issues corresponding 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, generator disassembly, and practices to assist folks be good stewards of their land and soil.

“The good a part of at the present time is that as college students discover completely 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 instantly with the scholars was vital,” stated Ridgewater Welding Teacher John Travis. The go to helped him understand the each day problem some highschool academics face making an attempt to soak up a lot content material in 50-60 minute lessons when that point additionally consists of preparation and scrapping. “We have now invited academics to return to Ridgewater so we are able to proceed to construct this relationship.”

Marshall Coaching Connection

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


Marshall Excessive College trainer Michael Braithwaite led to 50 of his profession and technical training (CTE) college students with him to see the Ridgewater School campus and discover the automotive and welding packages with Ridgewater school member John Fritton, Middle.

Contributed/Ridgwater School

“By way of our partnership with the Minnesota Transportation Facilities of Excellence, Steve Homberg made us conscious of the coaches and that Michael may use some assist studying tips on how to successfully run the coaches together with his college students,” stated Birkeland.

After a number of discussions Braithwaite got here to Ridgewater in December to be taught from school member John Fritton and led to 50 college students to be taught the fundamentals with him.

“Our School of Automotive Service Know-how shortly provided 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 may do with the instructors and steered some instruments our college would possibly think about buying to boost the machine studying expertise even additional.”


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

Contributed/Ridgwater School

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

College students experimented with a transmission dynamometer, engine verify 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 training trainer, he is excited to make use of the brand new instructors and expertise in his automotive lessons now, but in addition when his highschool opens a brand new Profession and Technical Schooling (CTE) heart subsequent yr the place he’ll educate superior automotive and superior welding lessons.

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