At Fayette County’s Eastside Technical Center, former WTVQ-TV anchor Michelle Rauch teaches media arts, which encompasses everything from news gathering to studio production.
Retired Kentucky State Police Post Commander Capt. Lisa Rudzinski teaches law enforcement courses, and firefighters teach their skills in a fire science course. Algebra, geometry and advanced placement history are offered along with auto mechanics. The school offers a course on creating video games — which the principal says is becoming a significant industry and college program.
But Eastside, off Liberty Road in Lexington, is facing limitations because the building hasn’t been renovated since it was built in 1978, Principal Wade Stanfield last week told the district’s local planning committee, which is setting construction and renovation priorities for the school district.
“It’s daunting,” said committee chairman Killian Timoney after Stanfield led the panel of parents, school officials and other citizens on a building tour. “Mr. Stanfield does an incredible job with the limitations that he’s given. I know his teachers here are amazing. It’s definitely prohibitive, some of the things he’s up against.”
Myron Thompson, the district’s senior director of operations and support, said he hopes the district makes an investment at Eastside and other schools because more students could get “real world career experiences” if the school had more resources and better facilities.
The skills that they are learning in here, they can translate into any business. They learn video production. They learn the valuable online writing skills. They are learning editing video, shooting video.
Media arts teacher Michelle Rauch
“We’ll have to wait to the end and see” how the committee votes, Thompson said. Several other projects in the district are proposed for the district facilities plan that, by state law, has to be updated every four years.
A January 2016 consultant report found Eastside well-maintained for its age, but lacking in many areas to support the curriculum. There was no air conditioning in laboratories, no exhaust in auto shops, “the technology infrastructure is old and overloaded and exposed in many areas,” the report said. “Wiring is like spaghetti above ceiling.”
“HVAC, plumbing and electrical all shot,” the report said. “Pipes corroded in all areas.”
Overhead doors don’t accommodate vehicles that auto repair and collision repair students are working on, Stanfield said.
“We need to be able to have some updated labs, so we can adequately equip them to meet industry needs that our community is seeking,” said Stanfield.
Despite the limitations posed by the building, school officials said the program is outstanding. Some students have left Eastside and gone straight into a career, while others have gotten college scholarships.
“The skills that the students are learning in my class, they can take into any career,” said Rauch, who is in her sixth year of teaching. “We live in a multi-media society. Most of the kids won’t take the traditional path into broadcast news. The skills that they are learning in here, they can translate into any business. They learn video production. They learn the valuable online writing skills. They are learning editing video, shooting video. They are learning everything they need to be that multimedia journalist.”
Rudzinski said in her class, students get an in-depth introduction to law enforcement. Students in her classes and in the fire science classes go on to college, the military, or to jobs in the public safety field where they don’t have to be 21, she said.
“For years, I hired and trained cadet troopers for the Kentucky State Police. And I was frustrated by applicants coming to us ill-prepared,” said Rudzinski. “I can still make a difference in that field by helping these young people understand what they need to do now to prepare themselves.”
Stanfield said Eastside also offers advanced U.S. history, arts and humanities, geometry and Algebra II because it helps half-day students get academic credit toward graduation. About 312 students attend Eastside on a half-day basis in the morning and afternoon.
Geometry teacher Kara Stacy said she coordinates with other teachers and classes. In the law enforcement class, she said, students use math skills to redraw a crime scene. For a collision repair class, her math students calculated the number of particles on sandpaper.
Eastside Technical also serves students from East and West Jessamine high schools, and from Woodford and Scott County high schools, Stanfield said.