Bluffton Harrison MS Celebrates Career Exploration Classroom

Bluffton-Harrison Middle School hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration for its new EEE Exploration Center on Wednesday. 

The classroom was designed to provide hands-on experiences in possible career pathways for seventh and eighth grade students. Specifically, there are three stations connected with programs available at Bluffton High School — culinary, welding and electrical. The renovation project, including its various interactive technology, was made possible by a $200,000 grant from the Don Wood Foundation. 

Lizette Downey, marketing manager for the Don Wood Foundation, described her excitement for the new venture’s investment in younger students.

“Programs like this, classes like this, hopefully, will make it OK for you to decide, ‘Maybe a four-year degree is not my thing, maybe another path is,’ but also, we need engineers, we need all kinds of other educated people as well,” Downey told a seventh grade class on Wednesday. “Don Wood would be so proud of this space and the great work you’re doing here at Bluffton-Harrison Middle School and carrying that up into the high school.” 

Assistant Superintendent Julie Meitzler, working alongside Area 18 CTE Director Brittany Kloer, spearheaded the project in the middle school.

“The EEE Exploration Center is a culmination of collaboration to meet the needs of our middle school students,” Meitzler added in a press release. “When we talked to our students last year about what they wanted more of at the middle school level, they said PCC (Preparing for College and Careers). With that information, we expanded to include our seventh grade students and are continually working to make this a hands-on learning experience to allow students the opportunity to explore the possibilities.”

Krista Baxter joined the district to teach the college and careers class. Previously teaching science, Baxter compared the interactive components of the classroom to a lab. Instead of experimenting to calculate or record data, however, the students are experimenting to learn more about themselves and their possible career pathways.

“They get to enjoy things and try it out — that’s the fun part,” Baxter said. “It’s less pressure, and there’s no danger to any of the equipment we’re using.”

For seventh grader Anna Hartman, the interactive elements of the classroom have made all the difference. 

“I feel like I didn’t expect (the job possibilities) to be as interesting,” Hartman said. “When you learn about it, you can kind of connect with some of the ones you know you want to do.”

“It’s almost like it just clicks,” added Charlie Shantz. 

Shantz, Hartman and Deacon Yates shared that the class has helped them shape a better idea of what they might want to do someday, as well as what classes they might take in high school to get them ready. Hartman would like to be a veterinarian, Shantz an aerospace engineer and Yates a robotics engineer.

Superintendent Brad Yates concluded, “It was referred to by the other speakers that we had today that we had the opportunity to align visions with foundations, with local business and with schools, and (because of that), really incredibly things can happen. As our students in the room, you’re going to be the direct result of the incredible things that are going to happen in this classroom with Mrs. Baxter. We’re really excited about that opportunity for you, not only for this school year but for school years to come.”

Story by Holly Gaskill, Courtesy of the News-Banner


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