Year in the Bubble: NewTech Skill Center giving students hands-on experience again this school year

SPOKANE, Wash. — NewTech Skill Center is where high school students from various school districts go to train for a career they may want to pursue after high school.

It’s very hands-on training as they’re learning practical skills for careers in automotive, culinary arts, dentistry and much more.

Unfortunately, all of that shut down in March last year.

And when Fall came around, administrators at NewTech say it was necessary to bring these programs back in person in some capacity.

“Missing that hands-on education left our kids lacking in the skills that we needed to deliver,” said Apprenticeship Coordinator Suzanne Gretch. “And so we just felt that it wasn’t an option come this fall to not have that hands on portion.”

NewTech was one of the few schools that opened up on a hybrid schedule in the fall.

Students this school year are attending labs there two times a week and participating over zoom the other three days. When the school year started, 5 students were allowed in a lab at a time, but it’s now increased to about 7 to 10 students.

Virtual learning at NewTech is mostly book work and supplements what students will learn in their labs.

Natalie Romine is an East Valley senior in her second year at NewTech.

She’s learning how to work on cars in her automotive class and says participating in person is the only way she can practically apply the skills she’s learning.

“Having our in-person days are definitely nice. Being able to actually apply the skills that you’re learning online and being able to do them right in front of you,” said Romine.

Hudson Bruszer feels the same about dentistry.

He’s a University High School senior and says while he was able to bring dental tools home, it’s nothing like being in the lab and putting everything he’s learning into practice.

“It’s basically real life stuff. Just working with dental chairs and all of the tools and chemicals. It’s really fascinating, I would say,” said Bruszer.

NewTech Skill Center still has some spots open for its 2021-2022 school year. You can find enrollment information here.

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