From The Hechinger Report
Published August 6, 2017
By Jackie Mader
Duxbury, Vt. — At 8:00 on a chilly spring morning in this rural Vermont town, while most kids his age are filing into classrooms and preparing for a day of school, 17-year-old Silas Woods rolls up the sleeves of his plaid button-down shirt and hoists a tire up to a mini Cooper, suspended a few feet above ground in the corner of the noisy Duxbury Auto Shop.
Woods is calm and confident as he moves around the garage, which serves as an unconventional math and science classroom. Thanks to a work-based learning program offered through nearby Harwood Union High School, Woods has been able to earn math and science credit by working 15 hours a week at the garage, instead of sitting in a classroom. His boss has been so impressed by Woods’ work ethic and job performance, he offered Woods a full-time paid job at the garage this summer.
Woods, who has never liked school, says that being able to earn academic credit by working with cars is ideal. “I’m not a classroom worker, I’m not a paper learner,” he said as he rifled through a large red toolbox. “The main way I learn is by screwing up and doing it again, which is honestly a lot more interesting and definitely makes it stick in your head a lot more.”
Work-based learning programs are slowly gaining traction in Vermont and other states as schools consider ways to better prepare students for college and careers. Educators and experts say such programs may engage disengaged students, increase graduation and attendance rates, and help students develop career goals at an earlier point in their lives.
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