In southern New Hampshire, a few miles inland from the coast, is the Dover High School Regional Career Technical Center. The center draws students from Dover as well as from nearby towns such as Barrington, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Somersworth, and Rochester.
The center, states its website, “provides students with an education that combines rigorous academic and technical study, preparing them for the world of work and continued education.”
More than 15 distinct technical programs are offered. The most popular is Animal Science. There’s usually a waiting list to get in.
The Animal Science learning spaces include classrooms, of course, and a barn facility with 75 animals—everything from guinea pigs to rabbits, Alpacas to snakes, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, and a pig. There’s a dog grooming lab, as well, that is open for business to the general public.
Students who graduate from the Animal Science program “are basically prepared to step into animal care jobs or a four-year or a two-year vet tech or animal science degree programs,” said Animal Science teacher Katie Green on a recent episode of the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System podcast in a very lively and upbeat conversation. “I’m trying to prepare them for that next step—pre-vet anatomy and physiology in college is no joke.”
Green said she looks for “any little leg up” she can offer her students. “I’ve definitely had students come back and saying, ‘oh, thank you for torturing us, learning all the muscles in the bones and making us make those flash card decks in high school.”
“We’re all visual learners,” said Green. “We want to touch and feel and see things.”
Students, said Green, find that building in clay is superior to textbooks, even those with great diagrams, because clay provides depth and dimension. “They definitely like it more than looking at pictures in a book,” she said.
The Animal Science program and the other career-tech programs, said Green, gives some students real motivation to complete high school. “And any other current tech teacher is going to tell you the same—that we are providing a really valuable service and it's the hands-on nature, thanks to things like Anatomy in Clay, that help us.”
And even if students decide not to pursue a veterinary career, she added, the classes will help them become better pet or animal owners.
“I think it really goes beyond just like, you know, passing high school and getting into college, it's really those like helping build lifelong skills,” she said.
Green offered one major tip for teachers looking to purchase an Anatomy in Clay® Learning System, whether for animal or human instruction. The tip is to apply through your state’s department of education for Perkins Grant money, which is specifically targeted for Career and Technical Education programs, to cover the cost.
Thanks for all you do, Katie!