Students get fired up at Goose Creek High

Who: Josh Carmack
Age: Senior in High School
What: Lacked motivation to succeed until he found his niche

The article we bring to you this Wednesday is about a senior in high school who was discouraged to be in Special Education classes his first ten years of school. In that time, he didn’t really know were he fit in academically. When he became involved in the welding program at school, though, he found his “specialty.” It is important that our educational system continues building programs in which our youth find passion. Sometimes, all we need in life is a chance. For Josh Carmack, he got that chance and made the most of it. It is time for our educational systems to give more chances to more youths, whether through programs like this or other innovative motivational methods. This article was published by The Post and Courier. It doesn’t take a world changing event to make a difference. Making a difference in your own life or that of those close to you can go a long way.

Tech classes help spark interest in school, future
By Mindy B. Hagen
The Post and Courier
Tuesday, February 5, 2008

GOOSE CREEK — Josh Carmack spent his first 10 years of school in special education classes, lacking the motivation to succeed academically.

Now the Goose Creek High School senior is the talk of his school for building an intricate “wildlife” glass-top table and four chairs. The outdoor furniture set, which Carmack created in welding class, is expected to be one of the highest-demand items during the silent auction portion of Berkeley County’s Teacher Forum instructional fair Feb. 15.

Although he’s spent five years in high school, Carmack is on track to graduate in the spring. He’s left special education classes behind for mainstream courses. And he was named Goose Creek High’s student of the month for January.

Carmack credits the school’s welding class for his turnaround.

Roughly 150 to 200 students each year request one of the 50 open slots in Tim Burgsteiner’s welding class. Students are selected based on their discipline and attendance records. Once enrolled, they tackle projects such as holiday parade floats and hurdles for the track team.

Carmack is one of many students who have benefited from the career and technical education courses available in Berkeley County’s comprehensive high schools, which include such subjects as health sciences, sports medicine and electronics.

“I have opportunities now that I wouldn’t have ever had,” Carmack said. “It’s totally turned my life around, and there are a lot of other students who also can’t wait to come back here every day.”

At Goose Creek High, “back here” refers to a cluster of career and technical education classes housed in a far corner of the campus. Instructors who lead the 10 courses — the most in the district — often work together on projects, meaning a welding student might use the computers in architectural and mechanical design to sketch out an idea.

Allowing hundreds of students to take part in hands-on projects each day also has an impact on Goose Creek High’s core academic classes, said Sherri Scoggins, the school’s career specialist. Welding students who use fire to mold steel or architectural design students who use complicated mathematical equations to create blueprints “see the relevance of why they need chemistry or geometry for their chosen line of work,” Scoggins said. It gives students who are at risk of dropping out a reason to attend class every day, she said.

Berkeley is the only school district in the Lowcountry that has pursued a full-fledged comprehensive high school concept, with career and technical education classes available on the same campus as academic courses. In Charleston County, the Garrett Academy of Technology is the only vocational school. In Dorchester County, many students travel to the Career and Technology Center for masonry, automotive repair and cosmetology.

Ten years ago, Berkeley County moved away from separate vocational centers and added career and technology wings to its existing high schools. That shift opened hands-on courses to a larger group of students, some of whom start with only a casual interest, said Gwen Scarborough, the district’s school-to-career coordinator.

Burgsteiner began Goose Creek’s welding class in 1998, and he has added machines every year. In addition to using traditional torches, the welding students have access to a plasma-cutting machine, which cuts sheets of steel with laserlike precision. Students create a variety of items, including backyard grills and signs for local businesses, and they often sell finished products to fund trips to state competitions. Graduates who spend two years in welding can obtain jobs with starting pay of $17 per hour.

Carmack’s wildlife table has attracted a new level of attention for the popular program. The 4-foot-by-4-foot glass-top table boasts smooth edges and stands about 3 feet high. The four steel chairs, painted black, feature animal silhouettes of rams, deer, birds and wolves.

Carmack, who once had no plans for the future, envisioned and completed the entire project. Since first setting foot in Goose Creek High’s welding shop, he’s participated in a co-op program at Master Sheet Metal and spent a summer in New Mexico welding walls for a new nuclear testing lab. Instead of taking study hall, Carmack returns to the shop every day to serve as a teaching assistant for first-year welding students. He’s applying for a scholarship to attend the 60-week NASCAR Technical Institute in North Carolina, where he’ll learn to manufacture stock cars.

Scarborough said Carmack’s story shows the importance of providing students with a strong direction and a career-based focus.

“He’s a shining star,” she said. “But that’s what can happen when a student is able to find his niche.”


~ by thab103 on February 5, 2008.

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