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Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013

Students prepare for careers in our networked world

“We’re teaching students who in the past didn’t even expect to graduate from high school,” says Daniel Horst, describing the Cisco Networking Academy course he teaches at Berkshire Jr./Sr. High School. “Most have known only failure in school before coming to Berkshire. Now they’re succeeding in school and they’re learning highly technical skills that are in high demand today. They’re beginning to see that they can not only graduate but can aim for high-skill, high-pay careers.”

Berkshire’s Cisco Lab is part of the Workforce Development Program, a joint initiative by Berkshire Union Free School District and Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth. The Workforce Development Program connects real work experience to what they learn in school.

“Students who make that connection are less likely to drop out of high school,” said Timothy Giacchetta, the president of BUFSD’s Board of Education and the CEO of Berkshire Farm Center.

Horst says his students are learning a great deal of technical information. “They find the work interesting and get excited about learning to actually build and fix computers.” The course includes hands-on experience as the students learn how to build computers.

He recalled being surprised by one of the students who insisted that he could build a computer properly on his own. “I reluctantly gave him permission,” said Horst, “and was amazed that he was able to take all of the new parts straight out of the boxes and successfully build a computer by himself in about 30 minutes! And this was after only two-and-a-half months in the Cisco course.”

“Teaching the Cisco Networking Academy coursework challenges me as a teacher and it is challenging my students,” said Horst. “The class demands serious work, but the students see real value in learning how to build and maintain computers, so they’re willing to put in the extra effort.”

“Cisco is a very intimidating class,” agreed student Brandon B. “But in time, with a little memorization and hands-on work, you’ll be amazed at the things you’re able to do.”

“I have never had to work so hard to stay ahead of my students!” said Horst.

Learn more about Berkshire's Workforce Development Program here.

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