Roane-Jackson Technical students earn high honors at state competitions

Suzette Lowe

With a motto of ‘Teaching skills for a lifetime,’ the Roane-Jackson Technical Center offers a wide variety of hands-on learning opportunities.

Students from both Roane and Jackson counties join together to acquire skills and develop talents in areas such as auto mechanics, law and public safety, welding, education, carpentry and culinary arts.

Those skills and talents were put on display at the West Virginia SkillsUSA competition on March 26 and 27. This state leadership and skills conference took place virtually.

Monica French, teacher and lead advisor of SkillsUSA, said that over 250 students competed state-wide at this year’s event.

“This was the 55th year for the state Skills competition,” she said. “Even though it was virtual, which was a different kind of experience, the students were excited to take part. Last year, the event was cancelled.”

When the awards were presented, 22 students from the technical school took home gold, silver and bronze medals.

“We are so proud of our students,” French said. “As we all know, this was a tough year and to still learn the level of skill needed to earn a medal is pretty amazing. The award ceremony was unlike the past. Normally, parents and all competitors are there and cheering on the winners. This year it was by Zoom.”

Gold medalists will compete at the National Leadership and Skills Conference in June. This will also be a virtual event.

French said one more honor was earned during the West Virginia competition.

“Brody Campbell was elected to serve as an officer in the SkillsUSA West Virginia organization,” she said. “This is quite an honor."

Developing aspiring teachers, providing hands-on teaching experience, sustaining interest and cultivating skills are all goals of the Educators Rising program.

Roane-Jackson Technical’s chapter recently competed at the Education Rising WV Competitive Events Conference from March 18-20.

Just as with SkillsUSA WV, the event was virtual. The results also were similar with three students placing first in their categories.

Two of the demonstrations were prepared last year, but due to the competition being cancelled, the students presented this year. Only the student whose presentation was formulated this school year will go on the virtual national competition in June.

As in past years, two areas in which Roane-Jackson students excelled were job interview and lesson plan and delivery.

Melissa Layhew, Educators Rising chapter sponsor, said the lessons are taught by the students to a classroom at a local elementary school.

“These teachers have been great mentors to our students,” Layhew said. “The lesson is videoed and entered as one of the three-part judging process. The other two parts are the written lesson plan and a question-and-answer session with the judges.”

For the job interview competition, the student prepares a cover letter and resume, followed by an interview by the judges.

“The tech center provides an amazing portfolio for our students,” Layhew said. “It’s what sets our students apart. This portfolio is provided for every student at the center, not just those who compete.”

One area in which the technical school’s students normally excel was unavailable this year.

The Inside Our Schools category allows two to four students to create a video showcasing a new and innovative strategy in one of Jackson or Roane County schools. Due to COVID-19 and time restrictions, this section had no entries from any school.

Layhew is enthusiastic about the Careers in Education program at the technical center.

“It is the perfect opportunity for students interested in teaching or childcare to get practical, hands-on experience,” she said. “Leadership opportunities are provided through Educators Rising.”

Those who focus on early childhood education can finish with all the requirements needed for the teacher assistant certificate issued by the West Virginia Department of Education or opt to receive up to 12 hours college credit depending on their college choice.

Educators Rising WV Competitive Events Conference first-place winners

Katie Cummings placed first in Job Interview and will compete in the national Educators Rising Competition.

Katie Cummings — Job Interview (will go to national competition).

Natalie Williams won first place in Lesson Plan and Delivery in STEM.

Natalie Williams — Lesson Plan and Delivery STEM — “Orders of Operation” to Alicia Waskey’s fifth grade, Ravenswood Grade.

Anna Salvado earned first-place honors in Lesson Plan and Delivery in Humanities.

Anna Salvado — Lesson Plan and Delivery Humanities — “Compare and Contrast — Language Arts” to Jennifer Horne’s third grade, Ripley Elementary.

Medalists from the Roane-Jackson Technical Center

Bella Sayre and Alexa Ranson were two gold medalists at the WV SkillsUSA competition.

Gold: Rayne Thompson (Welding Sculpture — see related story); Alexa Ranson (Beginner Cosmetology); Justin Thompson (Prepared Speech); Bella Sayre (Cosmetology High School Division); Joshua Hall and Jorge Angel (Interactive Application and Video Game Development Team); and Emily Taylor (Job Skill Demonstration).

Silver: Brody Campbell (Criminal Justice); Cody Harrison, Logan Smith and Bradley Fint (Welding Fabrication Team); Adrien Whiting (Technical Drafting); Levi Radabaugh (Collision Repair Technology); Michelle Butler (Cosmetology Postsecondary); Seth Spaulding (Welding); and Madison Jones, Emma Reynolds and Lanei Ellison (Crime Scene Investigation Team).

Bronze: Alexis French and Madison Jennings (Wedding Cake Design Team); Ashley Spurlock (Job Interview); and Mackenzie Scott (Culinary Arts).