Summer isn’t a slow season at the Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma (STEDY). As part of its continual mission to provide career and technical education (CTE) to Yuma County, STEDY held a four-day summer career exploration camp for middle schoolers from Yuma, San Luis, Wellton, Dateland and Mohawk Valley this past week from Monday, June 6 through Thursday, June 9.
About 80 students in total joined in on the fun, and each of them rotated through modules and activities in animation, coding, sports medicine and medical assisting at the STEDY office. They also engaged with two modules in engineering/virtual reality and agriculture/nutrition at the University of Arizona Yuma campus thanks to a partnership with UArizona.
STEDY Superintendent Tom Tyree stated that it’s the district’s hope to put these students on a path towards educational success.
“It’s a career exploration camp,” said STEDY and Yuma ABEC Director for Strategic Partnerships Heidi Jones. “And that’s our whole goal is to let them try new things and figure them out. I think it’s important for students to realize ‘I don’t like that’ as it is to realize, ‘No, I might be interested in that.’”
Jones explained that the camp was inspired as an extension of a “Codimation” day that STEDY used to offer pre-COVID. Since STEDY offers courses at its office on animation, coding and medical assisting, students particularly interested in coding and animation could come on Codimation Day to immerse in those subjects.
Now that the governor’s office has been encouraging the creation of summer learning camps as a way to make up for some learning loss due to COVID, the team at STEDY and Yuma ABEC had the idea to create their own summer program and partner with UArizona in Yuma.
That’s how middle schoolers in the camp were able to enjoy a wide range of activities, from programming robots and animating drawings to suturing bananas and practicing CPR on dummies.
“It’s pretty fun,” said student Leigha Honaker. “It’s just, like, interesting because I’ve never done stuff like this. [My favorite part was] sports medicine. I play football so I just like sports and I like people who do med stuff. It interests me because I would probably do that when I’m older maybe.”
And that’s the value of career exploration at the middle school age in STEDY and Yuma ABEC’s view: it helps students discover what they like and don’t like so that they can make informed choices in high school.
STEDY offers programming to high school students across the county at no charge and students from any school in the county can also take the animation, coding and medical assistant courses at the district office. It helps to know ahead of time that these resources are available.
“Our STEDY Career Exploration Camp is pretty unique because we’re showing them several different subjects,” said incoming STEDY Director of Curriculum Johannah Elliott. “Generally people sign up for one thing that they like to do, but this is going back to the old school summer camp style where you could learn to fish and hike and create a clay masterpiece all at the same place–but we’re doing it in CTE electives instead. You get a taste of everything, and most of them are matriculating to high schools very soon. It’s a good recruitment program for our STEDY programs as well as our satellite programs because we have 60+ satellite programs across the county.”
To learn more about STEDY and the opportunities available to students in Yuma County, visit https://www.stedycte.org/.
Sisko J. Stargazer can be reached at 928-539-6849 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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