State Ed. Secretary visits TCHS Brandywine

TCHS Brandywine students welcomed Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera to their school, a stop on the Schools That Teach tour.

TCHS Brandywine students welcomed Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera to their school, a stop on the Schools That Teach tour.

DOWNINGTOWN — Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera visited Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine Campus on September 20 as part of the Wolf Administration’s “Schools That Teach” tour. He was received warmly by a panel of student representatives and TCHS administrators.

Rivera’s visit began with an open Q&A session. Students asked the Secretary about a variety of topics, including the job market, growing industries and tips for college success.

“College is 90 percent time management and effort,” Rivera said. “And you can’t follow money. If you pick a track you’re interested in, opportunity will follow.” This statement was met with nods and smiles. These students are already pursuing their passions in STEM, the arts and skilled trades in the career programs TCHS offers. They are also already taking advantage of internship or co-op opportunities and earning college credits through dual enrollment arrangements. 

Following the Q&A, Rivera toured the school with students proudly showing him their applied learning labs in programs such as veterinary science and automotive service technology.

The tour ended in the TCHS Brandywine restaurant, where TCHS culinary arts students work as the chefs and serving staff. Over light brunch fare, the open dialogue between the Secretary, students and administrators resumed. Rivera spoke about the Wolf administration’s efforts to reform graduation requirements and school performance profiles by taking a more holistic approach that takes multiple measurements into account instead of just standardized testing scores. Under this plan, schools would be able to consider vocational certificates and other factors at graduation time.

Students also asked Rivera about the future of career and technical education in Pennsylvania. One student wondered if it would ever become more than a privilege and become more of a requirement? Rivera said that, yes, the Department of Education is trying to be “more deliberate” about providing career path exposure to students, even at an early age.

Conversation took a more personal turn when students asked the Secretary about his own life experiences and career discovery. Rivera described his youth in North Philadelphia and how he worked full time at a restaurant while still in high school. The first in his family to graduate college, his hard work enabled him to study education at Penn State University.

“The students were in awe to have such an intimate discussion with Secretary Rivera,” said TCHS administrator Michael Katch. “He shared both professional and personal experiences that inspired and complemented their career pathways.”

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