The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 25, 2012

A-Tech starts the new year with changes on the inside and out

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus has made some dramatic changes to the exterior and interior of several of the campus buildings in recent months. One of the largest projects was the renovation of exterior brickwork. The brick was starting to break down and needed replaced, not only due to aesthetic reasons, but the deterioration had also become a safety concern.

Jon Whipple, the principal of A-Tech, said, “I am very impressed with the appearance and keeping the same look that we had before.”

Jerome Brockway, A-Tech superintendent, stated that the bricks were high priority due to the safety concerns and the conservation of the buildings.

According to Whipple some of the brick work was not optional. The work done on each building is contracted through a competitive bidding process. The work has to go out for proposals, and a contractor is selected through not only the cost of the repairs, but also the most responsible approach to complete the work.

Inward Circle Inc., one of many contractors in the discussion, is owned by Bill Horodyski, a 1993 graduate of Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School masonry program.

“I am very pleased with the work that has been done on all of the buildings, and the project should be completed in the summer of 2013,” Brockway said.

There has also been a significant amount of interior remodeling and classroom shuffling completed recently. The interior remodeling allowed A-tech to accomplish several goals. It allowed for the re-location of all of the adult day-time programs to the “A” administrative building, the expansion of the media and resource center, and has allowed for the consolidation of several of the academic programs.

Karen Uspenski, the media specialist, comments that the recent changes have been a very positive improvement. According to Uspenski, the students have responded very positively. The teachers are also excited about the changes because now they are able to work more closely with their students while doing class projects in the media center. The resource center can now accommodate more virtual learning students due to the separation of the computer lab and the library. The students on the library side appreciate the quietness. The resource center is brighter and conducive to better learning for the students. The school also provided a projector on the computer lab side for the teachers to use when instructing in the media center. Before the renovation, the library could only hold a capacity of 30 people. Now, the media center can accommodate 30 people on the computer side as well as 30 people on the library side. “We have doubled our capacity and I love having more students in the resource center,” Uspenski said.

Scott Basen, the C-Net instructor, has been moved as well. He is now in the “A” Building.

Basen said, “I believe the area we are in now allows us to be more focused on what we are doing and emulates a computer repair shop or a small PC lab. This movement allowed us to set up the lab to fit the field compared to 40 years ago by adding computers. The previous room was built around electronics, where as the new room is built around computers to better suit the students of the C-Net program at A-Tech.”

Grouping the academic areas together has also been well-received by the teachers at A-Tech.

“At times, we would have to walk across campus to meet with other teachers in our content area,” said Mary Beckwith, an A-Tech government instructor. “It was never a problem for scheduled meetings, but for quick conversations about curriculum and current events issues that we discuss in the classroom, being together has been to our advantage.”