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'You learn by doing things': State school superintendent briefed on Tech Center during tour of Carroll

With Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Steven Lockard, left, and Carroll County Career and Technology Center Principal William Eckles, State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon visits an automotive services class at the Tech Center in Westminster, Tuesday.
With Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Steven Lockard, left, and Carroll County Career and Technology Center Principal William Eckles, State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon visits an automotive services class at the Tech Center in Westminster, Tuesday. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Most of her school visits probably don’t require safety glasses, but State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon had no problem donning them to tour the Carroll County Career and Technology Center.

There, she saw many of the programs training students hands-on and saw how ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs are being meshed into classes for English learners.

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On a second stop Tuesday, she traveled to Runnymede Elementary School to meet a class of gifted and talented students.

One of the first places she visited was the masonry shop in the Tech Center, where students were building outdoor fireplaces out of brick. In cosmetology, students were studying for their certifications.

Carroll County Career and Technology Center Principal William Eckles shows a site plan of planned Tech Center renovations to State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon, center, and CCPS Superintendent Steve Lockard during a visit to the Tech Center in Westminster Tuesda
Carroll County Career and Technology Center Principal William Eckles shows a site plan of planned Tech Center renovations to State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon, center, and CCPS Superintendent Steve Lockard during a visit to the Tech Center in Westminster Tuesda (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Melissa Thomas, an ESOL resource teacher, led the tour. In Auto Service Technology, she told Salmon how much the students benefited from getting their hands on actual vehicles.

“They’ve been pulling apart engines for weeks now,” she said.

Haley Miller, a student in the program, told Salmon that her favorite part is how hands-on auto service technology is. Her specialty is working with brakes.

“You learn by doing things. It’s different from a classroom setting,” she said.

William Alvarado and Kevin Canales talked with Salmon about their plans after high school, and she told them that sometimes it can be valuable to go away from home to get a different perspective and then to, perhaps, return, the way Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Lockard did.

In the shop, Principal Bill Eckles talked about how beneficial the funds from the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act had been in purchasing computers for the auto service technology shop.

“A lot of these shops were built for how cars were built in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” he said. “Now you need a computer to talk to cars.”

Lockard and members of the Board of Education accompanied Salmon on the tours.

Board member Tara Battaglia said the Tech Center is known as one of the jewels of the school system. “It’s good for her to see the gem,” she said, referring to Salmon.

The Board members and Lockard also talked with Salmon about the planned renovation and addition to the Tech Center, a project that is planned to take about four years and cost $60 million.

Salmon sympathized with the long process and shared stories of other renovations she’s weathered during her time working in the education field. She remembered the renovation of Easton High, which sits between two major roadways. At times during the project, which took place in the 1990s, she said you could see straight through the shell of the building from one road to the other.

“But it worked, and, wow, what a difference,” she said.

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Lockard shared that there is a photo taken of him as a baby where the construction of the Tech Center is visible in the background.

“It’s served the community so well,” Lockard said.

In February this year, on the official Twitter account of the Tech Center, they shared that the number of applications to Tech Center programs has gone up by 400 in the past three years. In the spring semester, 850 students are enrolled across the 26 programs.

Eckles shared the school’s success at the SkillsUSA Maryland State Championships the previous weekend. From the Tech Center students, 14 groups earned gold medals and 35 students overall were part of groups that earned medals.

“The staff did a tremendous job prepping the students,” Eckles said.

With Carroll County Schools Superintendent Steve Lockard, center, State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon speaks to, Century junior Haley Miller and Winters Mill juniors Kevin Canales and William Alvarado at the Career and Technology Center in Westminster Tuesday.
With Carroll County Schools Superintendent Steve Lockard, center, State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon speaks to, Century junior Haley Miller and Winters Mill juniors Kevin Canales and William Alvarado at the Career and Technology Center in Westminster Tuesday. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)
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