NEW CASTLE, Pa. – The 75th year of education at New Castle School of Trades was unlike any other, says director Jim Buttermore, but students and staff handled the conversion to remote learning well.
As a trade school that specializes in hands-on learning, teachers had to learn how to deliver education through recorded lectures while students had to complete course work digitally. Students were able to complete their hands-on projects when the school reopened in June.
And NCST’s career services team had to find positions for graduates, who were looking for work in fields hurt by the pandemic shutdowns.
“The challenge revealed the true commitment and dedication of a team, not to mention a passion for what they do,” Buttermore says. “Students now complete their general education classes through the learning management system – approximately 20% of their program – and rotate into the shops when necessary to keep numbers low and permit acceptable distancing.”
Going forward, all general education classes at New Castle School of Trades will be online-only, with trades theory courses “slowly transitioned to online delivery,” the director says. This allows students to complete about half of their education “off-site and at their convenience.”
Through the Cares Act, the trade school was able to hire maintenance staff, purchase protective equipment and upgrade its server.
Additionally, the receipt of a Paycheck Protection Program loan enabled NCST to avoid furloughing any employees.
“The pandemic has positioned NCST at a level we would have never dreamed,” Buttermore says. “There’s nothing like uncertainty to bring a team together.”