SILVERTON - JFK principal Troy Stoops had a major problem to solve last spring. He was having a tough time filling a full-time position for the next year. The open slot combined teaching agriculture and science and required certification in both.
A search did not turn up any qualified applicants and Stoops' contacts with Oregon State University and the Department of Education were not fruitful, so Stoops switched tracks. With the blessing and involvement of Mt. Angel School Superintendent Bob Young, he initiated talks with Craig Roessler, Silver Falls superintendent, and then-Silverton High School principal Jodi Drescher to see if there was a chance Kennedy students could be "tuitioned in" to ag science and technology classes there.
After a few meetings, Silverton agreed to the arrangement for woodworking, welding and animal science classes. JFK students would also be able to participate in Silverton's FFA program, which was an important consideration for Stoops.
The initial response from Kennedy students was very positive. Scheduling, though, proved to be a major challenge, especially with Silverton putting together the first master schedule for the new high school.
"We started off the year with a lot of kids enrolled. We had more kids scheduled into their building than they could handle," said Stoops. "Unfortunately, we lost the woodworking class for this semester - we had over 20 kids signed up for it." Stoops anticipates there will be spots in that class for JFK students next semester.
But the arrangement has worked out well for the Kennedy students in welding and animal science classes. They attend SHS during first and second periods and miss less than five minutes of class time at JFK, despite bus transportation time.
Stoops sees things working out even better in the future. "This year the plan is to be in forecasting with Silverton - then kids can request the classes they want."
Currently, there are seven JFK students in welding and five in animal science. Stoops believes those numbers will grow.
The benefits for Kennedy students are apparent as soon as you walk into the new Career and Technology center at Silverton High School.
"The facility (at Silverton) is just phenomenal," Stoops said. "It's hard to describe. The Tech Center is unreal. The opportunities over there are really good for kids."
JFK sophomore Cesar Torres, who takes welding agreed. "It's pretty high tech here (at Silverton) and we do stuff in class that you'll use later on. You can do pretty much anything."
Scott Towery, one of two Silverton High instructors teaching the joint classes, said, "The (Kennedy) kids are starting to blend in. I think it's working well."
The benefits of the new partnership don't end there. With the Ag Science and Technology curriculum a go at Silverton, Stoops still needed a half-time science teacher. He hired Jeff Crapper who not only had the science certification, but is a certified athletic trainer able to teach health and sports medicine classes, a popular addition to Kennedy's curriculum.
"Things kind of fell into place," said Stoops. "Now we have this sports medicine program that is just starting and kids are really interested in it."
He envisions that students will eventually be able to get practical experience by assisting Crapper with athletic training duties at Kennedy sports events. Crapper also received approval to offer college credit through Chemeketa Community College for the new sports medicine class.
In addition, the building space that was freed up by the welding/woodworking move allowed Stoops to relocate the weight room from behind the stage in the gymnasium. He created a new weight room, coaches' office and training room on a budget of $400, thanks to the former shop space, donations of equipment from Providence Health System and money from sales of no longer needed equipment.
"Now we can have PE in the gym and weight training or life fitness at the same time in the new weight room. So that gave us flexibility in our schedule," Stoops said.
Opening up the stage will enable the school to eventually offer drama and stage theatre productions at the school. Stoops is excited about that too since he believes it will engage other students who aren't necessarily involved in athletics or other extracurricular activities at JFK.