More than 300 Indiana County high school students participated this year in Indiana County Technology Center’s annual shadow program, a hands-on opportunity designed to help finalize their selection among the school’s 14 curricular areas.
Ninth-graders countywide first visit ICTC’s annual showcase, a fast-paced and highly orchestrated introduction to each of the school’s programs, before then deciding whether to revisit one or two of the programs for part of a school day.
Shadowing, included in the orientation process for potential students for more than 20 years, is a prerequisite for ICTC enrollment.
Marion Center’s Breanna Mumau, who shadowed in the Health Occupations Technology program and plans to enroll in it next year, said the opportunity to shadow was important in making her decision.
“Shadowing at ICTC allowed me to learn and see what kind of skills each program needs and provides,” Mumau said.
“I also wanted to learn what they actually do while at clinical,” regular field-based training exercises in the HOT program.
Her experience is common.
Many eligible students who shadow at ICTC first have specific questions or concerns in mind that, once answered, ultimately lead to enrollment, according to Kelly Fox, a school counselor and shadow program coordinator.
“Shadowing is important because it provides potential new students the opportunity to explore programs which seem interesting to them … and to determine if they could easily learn the skills available,” Fox said.
“Often, students will indicate that their shadow experience provided them the opportunity to use equipment or to perform certain tasks they had never done before.”
Penns Manor sophomore Bryan Mason, an ICTC student in its Collision Repair Technology program, said the opportunity to shadow was essential in narrowing his decision between CRT and another program.
“I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew ICTC was where I wanted to go,” Mason said.
“Once I got in and saw the kind of work going on, especially the tools you get to use and the kinds of cars in the shop, then I made up my mind on Collision.”
Additionally, shadowing provides an opportunity to meet new students and interact with instructors, who have industry experience and can answer questions about occupational expectations and curriculum.
“All 14 programs offered at ICTC are on the state’s list of high-priority occupations,” Fox said.
“As they learn about the ICTC program they are shadowing, students are also learning about future career opportunities.”