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News & updates

RTCC Nursing Students work on a pigs brainRTCC Health Class Finds New Pulse  -  Students To Get Clinic Hours At Gifford

Courtesy of The Herald, December 19, 2019

Story and photo by Dylan Kelley

This is very exciting,” said Amber Sevigny as she lowered her scalpel into the large grey pig heart that sat on a stainless steel tray in front of her. “I love dissecting things.”

Sevigny, along with about a dozen other students at Randolph Technical Career Center (RTCC), is preparing for the next big phase of the schools’ Health Careers program that has placed renewed emphasis upon hands-on learning and experience.

Already a state-certified Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA), Sevigny will soon get ajump-start toward her goal of attending nursing school at Vermont Technical College next year and, eventually, becoming a nurse. But first, she must complete her required clinical rotation at Gifford Medical Center.

Part of a new agreement with Gifford, RTCC is—for the first time—sending students of its Health Careers program to the medical-surgical unit of the hospital with the hope of providing an early immersion in the healthcare industry. The partnership, which will formally welcome its first cohort of RTCC students in early January for more than 60 hours of clinical time (twice the minimum state requirement), will place 11 carefully screened students alongside radiologists, surgeons, lab technicians, and pe-diatricians—each with the hope of imparting their professional expe-rience and career insight upon the students.

“The opportunity to have an increased awareness before you step out into a career if you’re pursuing higher education—I just think it’s extremely valuable,” said Gifford Clinical Nurse Educator Terrie Farnham, who will coordinate the Gifford side of the program. “They will see a gamut of health careers, working side-by-side with people who are experts in those areas to share knowledge and give them a sense of what their average day looks like.”

In addition to observing the intensive documentation process required of nearly every profession in the healthcare industry, Farnham said students will also routinely interact with patients at all phases of life, from pediatrics to elder care. “That’s where you learn!” said RTCC Health Careers instructor Melissa Kill, who once worked in the same Gifford unit before taking up her current position at RTCC. “Until you’re in front of a real human that is acutely ill and may be facing death, you can’t prepare yourself,” she added. “It’s got to be hands-on.”

That same hands-on approach was also what prompted Kill to invite Gifford general surgeon Victoria Edwards to RTCC last week as Sevigny and other students got to have a look at the inner workings of pig hearts.

I Want To Be that Person

“There is a dire need for health career professionals in this state,” said RTCC Director Jason Gingold, who has worked alongside first-year instructor Kill to build more real-world experience into the Health Careers program.

“It’s not just about getting these students to become LNAs, it’s to have them experience this world of health careers—all these potential job and educational opportunities.”

With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a need of more than 200,000 new nurses per year through 2026, RTCC is working to train the next generation by ensuring that those interested in the profession have a clear pathway to success without taking on burden-some student debt along the way.

“In this rural area, it shouldn’t always have be [that] a student takes on $60,000–70,000 of student debt,” Gingold said. “Now, there are just-as-viable alternatives in hospitals and organizations that will help students pay for their education and still get them where they want to be.”

In addition to RTCC’s long-standing practice of getting every student at least a few professional certifications by the time they graduate, Kill is also working to ensure each of her students is certified several other areas of medicine including in basic life support, CPR, and blood-borne pathogens. Everything is hands-on, Kill said, including learning how to take a patient’s blood pressure—which students were able to practice on other RTCC staff throughout the building.

“My goal for the program is that none of these kids stop at LNA. It’s just a stepping stone,” said Kill. “If they do decide to stop at LNA, they will be the most well-prepared LNAs out there.”

As fascinating as the science-heavy learning is for Sevigny, who smiled broadly throughout the dissection lesson, her initial reasons for getting into the nursing field are far more personal.

“My gram was in the hospital with lung cancer—seeing how people took care of her and seeing how they made a difference in her last few days of life—it re-ally made me want to be that per-son,” she said. “I want to be able to save someone’s life. I want to be able to give someone the comfort they need if they don’t have family around. I want to be that person for people.”

From Spin Cycle to Salad Spinners
RTCC Students Help Farms Build DIY Veggie Driers

By Zoe Newmarco, Courtesy of The Herald, November 21, 2019

A miscellany of students, farmers, and others gathered [at RTCC in Novembr] to create novel contraptions designed to help farmers increase vegetable sales. Despite a two-hour delay to the start of school at Randolph Technical Career Center, people in the diversified agriculture classroom were hard at work turning old washing machines into spinners for drying large quantities of leafy green vegetables.

students making vegetable driers

Hans Estrin, a produce safety specialist for UVM Extension, explained that the workshop came about as a partnership between the RTCC program and UVM Extension.

“This is the kind of thing that really helps growers,” said Estrin of the workshop, adding that the grant funded workshop not only allows farmers to get industrial sized green spinners for next to no cost, but it also provides them with the knowledge and skills to try similar projects at home. By doing the workshop at RTCC, he said, students gain the same skills, as well as the opportunity to practice leadership skills.

Besides being cheaper than most conventional models of large-scale green spinners, using a washing machine spinner is also much more time efficient, Estrin said. Estimating that each pound of greens grown is worth $8, the 30-90 seconds that it takes to dry greens in a washing machine spinner means that a farmer could easily dry 100 pounds of greens in a session—something that isn’t possible with the manufactured hand-crank models.

Eight farmers traveled from all over the state to learn how to re-wire their machines and get them ready to spin large amounts of greens. By the end of the day, all but one had fully functional greens spinners to take home.

Safety First

Dave Prodanas, a technician for the University of Massachusetts Food Science Department, said he and some of his colleagues came to learn about the process of converting machines into spinners with a specific focus on learning about how to maintain food safety standards.

Prodanas, and UVM Extension’s Estrin explained that the removable baskets that fit into the washing machines are a key piece of the food safety aspect, because the baskets can be removed to be washed, whereas [other parts] of the machine are hard to reach. Dragon said that part of the reason RTCC was able to host the workshop is because the class has the highest level of safety certification available for a program of its size.

Dragon noted that other RTCC classes also helped out throughout the day, [with the] culinary students providing lunch for all the participants, and graphic arts students helping to document the day’s happenings.

VT Works for Women and RTCC Join Forces to Host Annual Career Challenge Day
Story courtesy of VT Digger, Nov. 18, 2019

See the Channel 5 (WPTZ) report here.

Vermont Works for Women and Randolph Technical Career Center (RTCC) are hosting Career Challenge Day on Thursday, November 21, 2019.

Career Challenge Day is an opportunity for 6th-9th grade girls and gender non-conforming youth in RTCC’s sending region to try hands-on, fun and engaging activities in a supportive environment that are connected with programs at RTCC where girls are underrepresented, such as Auto Technology, Diesel Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Construction & Building Trades, Digital Media, Criminal Justice, and Diversified Agriculture.

Vermont Works for Women provides empowering activities at the start and end of the program to encourage participants to step outside their comfort zones, try new things, and expand what they believe is possible for their future pathways. The supportive environment, paired with hands-on activities, builds confidence and a sense of empowerment, and begins to break down barriers and gender norms.
Read the full article in VT Digger here.
student working at his desk
New Course Helps Students Explore STEM Careers

Courtesy of The Herald, October 17, 2019
Story and photo by Cecile Smith

Eight students in Randolph Union High School’s freshman and sophomore classes are opting to participate in a new class offered down the hall at Randolph Technical Career Center.

Housed in the classroom of the former Environmental Resource Management program, YLab is aimed at providing younger students opportunities to begin thinking about their career interests and goals.

Funded entirely through Agency of Education grants, the STEM-based class satisfies 2018 state legislation intended to foment career planning in younger students. A full-time teacher, Craig Fuller, floats between RTCC and Williamstown High School to provide varied, hands-on instruction. Fuller has students dabbling in several subject areas “to give them experience in different types of fields they hadn’t thought of,” he said. Building confidence in students’ skills is a key component of the class, he added.

“We want students to come in and we want it to be fun and interesting,” RTCC Director Gingold offered.
Yesterday, after a brief overview of the engineering field, students assembled gear-powered card shuffling machines. A couple of weeks ago, they built a pinball machine from a small, wooden kit. Freshman Coy Lyford, who hopes to enroll in the tech center’s criminal justice programing the future, said the class helps him find “what other things I might be interested in."

“From the pinball machine, they’re learning all about the physics and science behind pinball machines,” Gingold said.

That hands-on learning, he noted, connects to the appropriate science and math standards. Students are then asked to identify potential pathways, starting where they are now, to careers related to their projects and interests.

Charting Courses

“If you’re interested in that [career], how would you make a plan, as a ninth-grader, to get to that career?” Gingold asked. "The answer to that question often involves RUHS classes, RTCC programs, off-campus opportunities, and postsecondary schooling. YLab helps illuminate the available choices to students," he said.

The generation of students currently in high school is growing up amid a changing work culture, asserted Gingold.

“They think more about entrepreneurship, they think more about creativity—because they’ve grown up with iPhones and all these other devices and technology that allows them to work differently,” he said.
For Gingold, the idea that hard work will bring money and success simply does not hold anymore.
These days, students are “making their economic decisions based on the kind of lifestyle they want,” he observed, noting that the course seeks to prepare youth for new and changing markets. Every week Fuller’s class meets with RTCC business management instructor Wayne Goulet to learn about personal finance strategies and lifestyle goals.

While the RTCC director thinks all students would benefit from participating in YLab, at this point, the semester-long class is open only to those willing or hoping to try something different.
“We chose to go slow and small because we want it to be successful,” Gingold said.
picture of shannon tinker
Real World Learning at RTCC

RTCC would like to congratulate Shannon Tinker!

Shannon will be working at Ryder as part of her Work Based Learning pathway. It's a high skill, high wage, opportunity, and Shannon is up to the task thanks to her Diesel Technology training and education!

Real world learning - and real world opportunity - only at RTCC!

"Food for Thought"
RTCC's Jason Finley and Colin Andrzejczyk Share Thoughts About Hunger with Sunrise Rotary

The Food for Thought program at RTCC has not only been successful, but has been picking up steam since its inception over a year ago.  Jason Finley and Colin Andrzejczyk recently shared the initiative with Randolph's Sunrise Rotary Club. You can learn more about the program, and about Sunrise Rotary, by clicking on the below links:

Sunrise Rotary News Letter

Food for Thought