Toolkit: Welding Teacher Richard Stephens

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future opens doors across the state to expanded career and technical education (CTE) like Richard Stephen’s award-winning welding program at Worcester Technical High School in Worcester County. The past year has seen many creative work-arounds for learning hands-on skills. Now that students are back in the classroom, they can put all that theory into practice.

OUR WELDING PROGRAM The weld­ing program is one of the most popu­lar programs at Worcester Tech with more than 40 students applying every year for 24 junior or senior spots.

WELCOME BACK! Having students back in school has made a huge differ­ence in their learning. They did well with our virtual lessons on welding theory but now they can work hands-on—a critical component of career technology education (CTE). The stu­dents are so thankful to be back. Their attendance is awesome; they don’t like to miss any time in our classroom or shop.

THE WELDING NORM The “normal” curriculum in our welding program is divided 25/75—25% theory, 75% hands-on welding skills.

THE PANDEMIC NORM When the pandemic hit last year, normal CTE was on hold. New tools were incorpo­rated to deliver our welding theory curriculum, but students completely lost their opportunity for the 75% hands-on skills.

THE NEW TEMPORARY NORM The virtual transition to our theory curriculum was very successful. We got creative for hands-on and found a few online virtual welding practice sites but nothing that could replace our Worcester Tech shop for our students.

MAKING IT WORK! Like other students, our new welding students started out the 2020-2021 school year 100% virtual. Eventually we transitioned students back in waves to our tradition-al in-person model. While getting all the students back took time, our hybrid model helped our students acclimate.

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