By Julia Sayre, Lila Mikos, Ruby Reimann, and Chloe Combra
Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) transitioned out of remote instruction into a hybrid learning model on January 11. Teachers in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department have had to redesign some of their methods in order to meet social distancing guidelines without sacrificing the hands-on learning that their courses are built around.
Dr. Barbara-Jean Chauvin is the director of the CTE department, which currently offers courses in automotive technology, culinary arts, health assisting, building trades, and horticulture-landscape maintenance. As a member of the Massachusetts CTE task force, she was part of structuring a safe, hybrid version of MVRHS’ CTE program to align with the safety protocols students are expected to follow in the workplace.
“One of the things that we decided early on was that we would follow industry guidelines,” she said “So even if the school said one thing, we would go to a higher level in terms of the industrial standard. All of our programs are aligned to the industry anyway, so it made the most sense. In addition to that, we are also following school and Department of Education guidelines.”
The hybrid model split the student body into A and B cohorts that determine whether a student comes into school or learns from home on a given day. This has cut most class sizes in half, or sometimes smaller, since a portion of the student body has opted to remain fully remote.
Automotive technology teacher Ken Ward said, “The biggest change is the smaller groups. It’s not too hard to separate [students] when they’re in these smaller groups, but we still have to wipe everything down: all of the tools, the safety glasses, and all of our areas when we’re done.”
Additionally, cars being serviced can only be from MVRHS staff or a student taking the automotive course. In previous years people from the community could bring in their cars to be serviced. Despite these changes, Mr. Ward is delighted to have his students back in the building. “Being able to get students active in our shops again is nice because that is where it all comes together, so that’s super important,” he said.
The smooth transition to hybrid has been possible due to the cooperation of the students and efforts of teachers, administrators, and staff. Senior Emily Anderson said, “All my teachers are really good with communication. It’s really nice to just see everyone and be able to work with people one-on-one instead of in breakout rooms. I talked to other people too and [hybrid] has made them more happy and motivated.”
Senior Sydney Bierman said CTE’s nursing program has had to put their clinical hours at Windermere on hold and instead practice skills in the classroom and other certifications. “I definitely prefer being back in the building for nursing in particular because we do a lot of hands on skills,” she said.
Culinary teacher and CTE department chair Chef Jack O’Malley has made adjustments to his teaching methods to accommodate the needs of students during remote and in-person instruction. This has even included dropping off ingredients to students’ homes. He has also increased students’ ingredient prep time in person in order to minimize the likelihood that students will cross paths with one another.
Overall, Chef O’Malley said he is happy that he gets to continue to share his love for cooking with his students. “I’ve been pretty lucky,” he said. “Kids at home have been doing their best. A lot of the students that have been cooking along with us at home have been sending me pictures.”
Dr. Chauvin seemed most excited that students are having no issues complying with the school’s safety protocols. “Everybody is doing great with social distancing, they’re doing great with mask compliance, and the teachers have done a fabulous job,” she said.