Experiential learning week expanded to feature three local businesses
By Garrett Simmons
Lethbridge School District No. 51
It’s experiential learning week for 10 Lethbridge School District No. 51 students.
Last year, Lethbridge Collegiate Institute students experienced the world of work at Southland International Trucks Ltd. and Lethbridge College. Andrew Krul, Off Campus Education Co-ordinator for the District, added the program has expanded for 2018.
“The changes are that we included Winston Churchill High School and two other businesses, CEP Automotive and Fix Auto,” he said.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week will feature the students rotating through the three businesses, learning the ins and outs of the businesses. Thursday, students will visit the college, while Friday will see students visit the Kickham collection at Southland.
Brad Carpenter, one of the partners at CEP, said his business became involved in the program thanks to a connection to a current LCI employee, automotive teacher Lance Rosen.
“Lance over at LCI used to work for us until he went back to school,” said Carpenter, who added Rosen’s students are now getting a brief education into how things work at CEP. “This is just to get their feet set. We can let them see what it’s all about, and if we do get a favorable response and get a student that enjoys it or like it, it’s worth it for us.”
Students toured the machine shop and learned the parts side of the business at CEP.
“In the machine shop, they are going to take an engine apart and see how it ticks and get their hands dirty,” said Carpenter.
Tanner Taniguchi, the general manager of Fix Auto, is a former LCI student who went through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) himself. He actually went back to his old high school earlier this year to help teach an estimating course.
LCI and WCHS students had an opportunity to tour the six main departments in the huge shop, which opened last February.
“It’s really just to let them do a little hands-on work and some observing,” said Taniguchi. “It’s a quick snapshot of what goes on in our shop.”
For Southland owner George Kirkham and the company’s service manager, Rob Mitchell, the educational partnership with the District is an important one.
“George and I, and others in our business are passionate about helping students get a well-rounded education,” said Mitchell. “Our thoughts are, what better way to show that than to take students and thrust them into the real world of work. We always want to embrace the initiative and stay connected to this program for as long as we can, so that it does not die but grows for years to come.”
Southland’s message to students this week is simple – to give them the best experience they can on how their business works.
According to Jaye Swanson, off-campus education RAP career practitioner, the District is lucky to have businesses like CEP, Fix Auto, and Southland, along with the college, who are willing to assist with the program.
“It helps to give the kids more exposure to mechanics and the auto body trades,” he said about the partnerships, as he added this year, eight students from LCI and two from WCHS are participating, touring businesses in groups of three and four.
Swanson added the Grade 10 students will get exposure into potential areas of study for the future, while the Grade 12s might use this week to help determine what it might be like to be a journeyman in a particular field.
Going forward, Swanson added he would like to see the program expand into other trades, such as agriculture, for example, as he mentioned the trades jobs of the future require a special skill set.
“There is a lot of technology involved now, and a lot of these jobs are as technical as a lot of other work out there,” said Swanson, who mentioned the software programs being used at Fix Auto as an example. “Students need to have those hands and mind skills, but they also need that technical ability as well.”