Brock University re-launches Tech Ed program

After 25 years in the restaurant industry, Jeff White decided it was time to teach the next generation of culinary masters.

His decision to enrol in Brock University’s Technological Education program quickly paid off. The Burlington native, who started the Philthy McNasty’s restaurant chain, graduated with a 97 per cent average in 2012 and is now teaching at St. Igatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School in Oakville.

Those techniques I learned at Brock, I use every day,” he said. “I know they taught me well because of the success I’m having with the students.”

White told his story Thursday as Brock’s Faculty of Education held an event at the Hamilton campus to re-launch the Tech Ed program after a one-year hiatus.

The updated Tech Ed program, with a new curriculum and a new blended delivery format, will hold its first classes in January, 2017 with a focus on helping tradespeople get a degree while continuing to work.

The former Tech Ed program was put on hold at the end of the 2014/15 school year because of a Ministry of Education-mandated change in Teacher Education that saw programs increase in length from one to two years. There was a concern across the province that tradespeople wouldn’t be able to commit to taking two years off of work to get a Tech Ed degree. The result was that five of the seven universities in Ontario offering the program subsequently cut it.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities put a call out for new Tech programs last year, and Brock successfully landed a grant for its new program.

The re-launched Tech Ed offering is a combination of online and in-class learning, and is supported by Queen’s, Windsor, Niagara College, Fanshawe, Conestoga, Canadore, Mohawk and local school boards.

Tony DiPetta, Chair of the Technological Education Consortium of Ontario, called it a “new era in Tech Ed teacher preparation.”

DiPetta said technological education in elementary and secondary school is vital in helping Ontario youths along the road to careers in everything from construction, hospitality and transportation to green industries.

“Tech Ed teachers with experience in these trades and a passion for teaching are essential,” he said. “Experience matters and supporting tradespeople with the requisite skills and passion for becoming teachers requires adapting the Tech Ed program to these tradespeople’s unique set of circumstances.”

The Brock Technological Education program allows qualified tradespeople to complete their teacher preparation program partially online, partially in the more traditional face-to-face classroom setting and partially through e-learning on evenings and weekends.

David Siegel, Interim Dean of Brock’s Faculty of Education, said Tech Ed is important because of a skilled trade shortage and an expected increase in demand for technology teachers.

“This is a great opportunity for Brock to fill a need. Students frequently do not pursue the trades even though there are excellent job opportunities. We need more qualified Tech Ed teachers in schools so that students will see these opportunities,” says Siegel.

Added Bob Moulton, Technological Education Co-ordinator: “When more tradespersons and professionals are teaching in our secondary schools, it will underline the importance of the Ministry of Education’s four pathways ­ workplace, trades, community college and/or university. All pathways are key to the success of students.”

Registration for the new Tech Ed program is expected to open in early March, 2016, with the first classes being on Jan. 3, 2017. Candidates will graduate from the 16-month continuous program in June, 2018.

Thursday’s event also gave Brock University’s Faculty of Education the opportunity to recognize United Association Local 67 for a major contribution it made to the faculty in 2012. The gift of more than $75,000 was used for financial awards for students, as well as to upgrade the technology in the classrooms that will be used for the new Tech Ed program.

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