The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 22, 2012

A-Tech expanding programs to offer more choices for county students to prepare for future careers


Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — There have been exciting changes in the Career Technical Labs at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Center, including in the Public Safety Academy and the addition of a new Pharmaceutical Tech program.

The Public Safety Academy has a new instructor, Van Robison. Robison was interested in the position not only because of his professional connections to former instructor, Keith Stewart, who began the program in 2003, but also because the academy had such a great reputation. Robison said that he had experience working with students at the high school level, as well as at the college level through his presentations on homicide investigation and computer forensic presentations at Kent State University, Ashtabula Campus.

Robison served for a total of 29 years with the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department, achieving the rank of detective lieutenant. The first 17 years of his career, Robison worked in the road patrol division. He then moved up into the Detective Bureau for six years and ultimately was promoted to the position of lieutenant in the Detective Bureau, which he operated for six years. Robison’s strengths are what brought him to A-tech, especially on the criminal justice side. Experience with both the investigative as well as the administrative operations side of his profession is what makes him love his job and enjoy sharing his passion with students. Robison said that the Public Safety Academy seems to attract students well equipped to work in the police and fire fields, both of which require a high level of maturity and discipline. Robison now has a new appreciation for the career of fire fighting, which is a very tactical field.

The Public Safety Academy is an immense opportunity for students to obtain all kinds of certifications.

“For my first year teaching, I am very blessed with two very good groups of students, that being the juniors and the seniors,” Mr. Robison said. “This is one of the best opportunities young adults have; it prepares them for many public safety fields that include EMT, fire fighter, law enforcement officer, parole officer, corrections officer and dispatcher.”

A-Tech has also introduced a brand new career preparation lab that prepares students to work in the field of pharmaceutical technology. Jon Whipple, principal of the Ashtabula County Technical and Career Center, wanted to expand the students’ opportunities in the health care field. In order to do this, A-Tech leadership looked at what other options were being offered throughout the state in other technical schools with respect to the health care professions. It was decided that pharmacy tech offered students the best chance for career success after high school. Whipple said that they had a number of applicants who had all of the qualifications to lead the new program. Through the interview process, Marybeth Sanford emerged as the best candidate.

Whipple said, “I am very pleased with the enthusiasm that Mrs. Sanford brought to her classroom and program. She was very knowledgeable in the pharmacy technician field and she works well with the other health care tech teachers and made a great connection with the students.”

Sanford has had several experiences within the health care field. She was a nurse’s aid at a nursing home for three years. Then, knowing she wanted to continue her passion for helping people, she decided to explore the field of pharmacology. She attended Great Lakes Institution of Technology in Erie, Pa., which is a one-year program. Sanford received extensive training in the areas of pharmacology, physiology and anatomy and graduated as a certified pharmacy technician. Mrs. Sanford said she did an eight-week externship at the Lake Erie Correctional Facility and learned that pharmacy inside a prison was not for her. She then accepted a position at Walgreen’s in Ashtabula where she has served as the senior pharmacy technician for seven years. Sanford found out about the career at A-Tech through her pharmacy manager and she wanted to branch out and share her passion with others.

“One strong quality I have always admired about myself is when I am presented with a challenge I never give up until I master it,” Sanford said.

While she has found teaching rewarding, there are also many challenges. The juniors learn communication skills, how to do a resume, interviewing, medical terminology and much more. The seniors then have the option to take medical, dental or pharmacy tech. The students must have great math skills because they are constantly calculating dose amounts. Basic household measurements are a must as well as organizational skills.