By JUDY SHERIDAN
Retired USAF Staff Master Sergeant Vernon Anderson, who initiated the partnership announced in October between Aledo ISD, Aledo ISD Education Foundation, Weatherford College and Bell Helicopter, is more than optimistic about what’s ahead as the entities work together to groom a better-prepared work force.
“I live in Aledo. I believe in first place,” Anderson told those gathered for the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday at New River Fellowship.
“I want to lead the way here in Parker County in showing not just the state of Texas but the nation that this county, this high school, is going to lead the way in showing everyone else how to build a proper STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] program.”
The work force development program will involve training curriculum developed by Bell and opportunities for students to apply their knowledge to real-life problems.
Anderson, a senior technical instructor in Bell’s Technical Training Department and a member of the Aledo ISD Education Foundation, said the collaboration began with Aledo student Carter Haber, who sent him a robotics slide presentation.
“I know his mother didn’t help him, because it had a couple grammatical errors in it, and she’s a perfectionist,” he said, crediting Carter with the vision. “I thought if a young man like that can have an innovative idea, then let’s act on it.”
Getting the sanction of decision makers was easy, he said, with Aledo ISD superintendent Derek Citty on board from the beginning.
The first thing he said was, “When do we start?” he said.
Aledo’s unique students are key, Anderson said.
“I’ve never seen a group of kids this smart, and I’ve been all over the world. Most of the communities we work in are communities that need our help. We are asking Aledo for help, because you guys will be providing some good students.”
Anderson cast the school district as the foundation and Bell as the facilitator. He stressed that the program should begin earlier than high school, at the seventh or eighth grade level.
“We’re going to bring our knowledge and experience into Aledo High School and hopefully in the near future the middle school as well, because the earlier we get our kids engaged in the application of what they’re learning, the better off they’ll be,” he said.
Field trips, similar to the one the Aledo Robotics Club recently took of Bell’s robotics department — where students experienced a new robotic transport system — will show students how their knowledge can be applied.
“We can’t afford to put all the equipment needed in a high school,” he said, noting the company’s donation of two helicopter mock-ups to AHS, “but we can bring students to us.”
Anderson said Bell would ask its partners to provide guest speakers, facilitators for the new engineering courses, in-house tools and equipment and dual-credit opportunities.
Aledo ISD has committed to providing general career explorations at the ninth-grade level, he said, and basic vocabulary skills and knowledge of tool usage in 10th grade.
Applying their knowledge and skills at the service level happens junior year.
“At Bell we’re going to provide specialized real-world projects to get our kids more involved and help them decide what career paths they want to take,” he said.
Senior year will challenge students in terms of depth and complexity.
“For me, it’s never been about the grades you make,” he said. “It’s about what you learn in that challenge.”
Once labeled as a special education student due to his dyslexia, Anderson’s gift with numbers was recognized by a computer science teacher. After high school he received a Bachelors in Aeronautics with Aeronautical Management Certification and a Masters in Aeronautics and Safety Management.
His choice as a keynote speaker was sparked by a fall survey showing that chamber members wanted to learn more about partnering with educational institutions to prepare young people for work.
“Even though we are leading the way, bringing it into the school systems,” Anderson said, “we invite and we challenge every business in Parker County to follow this path because our children are the most important part of this.”
By JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
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.
Willow Park tackles 11-street project
The Willow Park City Council last week picked a list of 11 streets they’d like repaired as part of the city’s next road repair project, a significant portion of the 17-road, $850,000 list of needed repairs.
Teens arrested for throwing rocks on interstate
Two 14-year-old boys are facing charges after reportedly throwing rocks at passing vehicles on Interstate 20 Tuesday afternoon, damaging trucks and injuring a woman.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges