BY JUDY SHERIDAN
Bell Helicopter went big announcing the company’s new partnership with Aledo ISD last Tuesday morning, noisily maneuvering a helicopter onto the football practice field as a throng of excited students and faculty stood by.
All eyes were fixed on the flat gray sky as the helicopter appeared on the horizon and hovered to a landing, rotors spinning and dust flying. Among those getting out were Superintendent Dr. Derek Citty and Franklin “Tom” Knight, Bell’s technical training manager, who shook hands.
The collaboration between the globally-recognized aerospace company and Aledo ISD — as well as with Dunbar, Eagle Mountain — Saginaw ISD and several others, according to Knight — is an effort to groom tomorrow’s work force.
“Bell is reaching out because we know you will be our future,” he told students who later surrounded him, peppering him with questions. “We don’t want to go to the east and west coasts to get laborers.”
Knight said the company would like to interject manufacturing skills into the secondary school curriculum, as well as build apprenticeship programs with Weatherford College and others.
That type of training, he said, will allow a student to “go get a job at any of our aviation facilities.”
The new coursework will target advanced math with practical applications, Knight told students, leading to a choice of three different tracks in the student’s junior year — engineering, advanced composites or CNC machining.
He did not name a figure when asked what the company planned to invest, but spoke of donating a machine to Tarrant County College and developing and installing software at Aledo High School.
“We’re reaching out to manufacturing companies and asking them to invest with us,” he said.
Vernon Anderson, a Bell employee and a member of the new Aledo ISD Education Foundation Board, worked with Knight on the initiative.
Anderson approached the school board with the idea in July, Citty said, and will now chair a Bell committee to get the program up and running in Aledo,
Anderson discussed how the district could access company resources through the partnership at the October board meeting.
He said Bell would equip students to participate in the Real World Design Challenge, a national competition that invites student teams to solve a real-world aeronautics problem.
“Those software programs are worth millions of dollars that I use, and we’re willing to give them to the school district for free to join this RWDC,” he told trustees.
Knight said Bell’s efforts coincide with — but are not coordinated with — House Bill 5, passed by the Texas Legislature in June, with implementation in 2014.
The bill expands graduation requirement options, allowing students to add classes that lead to technical careers instead of college.
Districts can also create “rigorous” courses — with the help of industries and community colleges — that both count toward graduation and help build a skilled workforce.
The bill will allow Aledo ISD to use Bell’s training curriculum to create a specific STEM — science, technology, engineering and math/manufacturing — degree track on the AHS main campus.
Executive Director of Curriculum Kathy Allen said the first new course the district will offer will be Concepts of Engineering, followed by Engineering Design and Presentation the second year, with the added benefit that the courses serve as prerequisites for robotics programs at Weatherford College.
Citty, impressed by a recent tour of Bell, said he appreciated Anderson’s input, calling him a “zealot for his company with a vision for our kids.”
“The Aledo ISD recognizes the importance of college-readiness and workforce development programs for our students including advanced learning in science, technology, engineering and math,” Citty said.
“Working with Bell Helicopter will elevate the students of Aledo ISD and offer them real-life experiences that are not offered in many districts across the country.”
District to launch STEM degree track
BY JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
Suspicious house fire under investigation
The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.
Parker County Attorney John Forrest will ask county commissioners for additional funds as county budget discussions begin this year; he hopes to hire another attorney to help with an increase in Child Protective Services cases.
Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges
A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period.
Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested Monday, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.
Developer withdraws site plan
ANNETTA —A controversial 34-home subdivision proposed for a 41-acre tract on Duncan Road will not go forward as planned, according to action taken by both the proposed developer and the Annetta Town Council after a public hearing Thursday night.
Aledo City Council to meet July 24
The Aledo City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in the Aledo Community Center, 104 Robinson Court, Aledo.
Fires damage business, home
Two separate fires around 2 p.m. July 15 damaged a Willow Park business and destroyed the home of a Weatherford family.
Letter to the Editor
Thursday night, July 17, I was present for a surprisingly interesting experience when State Representative candidate Matthew Britt addressed a small group of supporters, followed by a question and answer session.
ESD 1, Annetta South close on fire station site
Parker County Emergency Services District No. 1 and Annetta South officials said Tuesday that the ESD is homing in on a site for a new fire station to serve residents in the Annettas and surrounding areas. Annetta South is expected to consider a zoning change to accommodate a new station next month.
Registration has begun for Aledo ISD
Aledo ISD enrollment for the 2014-15 school year began yesterday, July 21, and students new to the district need to register before school begins, Monday, Aug. 25.
County scrambling to fill elections post
Former Parker County Assistant Elections Administrator Laura Watkins, who sought, but was not appointed to the post of Parker County Elections Administrator after Robert Parten retired, last week began work as assistant elections administrator for Palo Pinto County, Palo Pinto County Elections Administrator Judith Evans has confirmed.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Suspicious house fire under investigation