JEFFERSON — As an educator, it is always challenging to start a new position with a new school, but in the case of Paul Brockett, the transition to principal during the 2013-2014 school year was made a bit easier by his past associations with Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus. As a young man, Brockett attended his academic and career tech classes as a member of the C-Net program. C-Net is a program which prepares students to diagnose and address computer hardware issues.
Mr. Brockett enjoyed his time as a student of A-Tech, previously known as Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School, following his desire to understand more about the world of electronics. After graduating high school he continued his education at several different schools including earning an associate’s degree in electronic engineering at Lakeland Community College. He then developed a strong interest in the field of education. Mr. Brockett attended Kent State Ashtabula Campus and the Kent State Main Campus in Kent to earn his bachelor’s degree in vocational education. He earned his master’s degree in education at Youngstown State University.
Returning to A-Tech, Mr. Brockett accepted a position as an instructor of the very same program he studied as a student, C-NET. He said it seemed natural, as his interests in both the world of electronics and the world of education came together for him. He did well in this position for a decade, in part because he saw some of the same interests in his students as he had enjoyed when he sat in their position. His passion for education then led him to accept an offer to become the principal of Wayne County Technical Career Center. Again, he found success in this position, introducing new programs to keep grades up and developing successful working relationships with the teachers providing for a positive educational atmosphere.
In 2012, Brockett had the opportunity to once again find himself in familiar surroundings. A-Tech had an opening for an administrator, and while he enjoyed his time in Wayne County, the opportunity to be a part of A-Tech once again was difficult to refuse. "It was like coming home," Brockett said.
He again walked the same halls he had as a student and as a teacher, now as an administrator and as of 2013, the principal of the school. Several changes have come with a new principal. One change that has the opportunity to have a great impact on student grades is the addition of “Catch-Up Café.” Catch-Up Café is a program where students attend a separate eating area for lunch if they have missing or late work from their academic or career-technical classes. Teachers organize and forward work that needs to be completed to a central location where it is separated by lunch period. The student then picks up his lunch from the cafeteria and proceeds to the Catch-Up Café. Late and missing work is then handed out to the students where they complete the assignment as they finish their lunch. The program has the opportunity to significantly help student grades and the understanding of content.
“It takes three A’s to make up for one zero,” Brockett said. “If we can keep those zeros from accumulating, not only will students’ grades be higher, but they will also be caught up in class and be better prepared for the material that is going to be presented going forward.”
Over the years, Brockett has noted that while the halls of A-Tech are very familiar, that education itself has changed in some ways. Students at A-Tech are able to be treated more like adults.
"The students are very focused on learning in their program areas and academics to be prepared for their careers or further education after high school. The field of education has also had some significant changes," said Brockett, including new requirements from the federal and state government.
One aspect of A-Tech that has not changed from his time as a teacher are the rewards that come with the job. Brockett said the greatest reward he has is watching the growth of students. “There are times when you see a student begin to put all of the pieces together and they realize that everything we do has a purpose. Their motivation goes through the roof.”