Ohio Senator Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, made a whirlwind tour of Fairmont High School on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, to learn more about how the only public high school in her hometown attempts to address the educational needs of its large and diverse population.
Lehner, who chairs the Ohio Senate’s Education Committee, got a crash course on the wide range of academic and career-oriented offerings at Fairmont, as well as how the large suburban school works to address students’ needs. As Fairmont Principal Dan VonHandorf put it: “We tried to show Sen. Lehner what makes a safe, welcoming and overachieving public school work.”
Lehner toured Fairmont’s Career Tech Center, which offers 12 programs ranging from Accounting to Allied Health and from Biotechnology to Construction Trades. She also visited Fairmont Industries, a program that helps disabled students gain both academic skills and life skills they can use after high school.
In addition, she talked with seniors in Fairmont’s International Baccalaureate diploma program and listened to presentations on the IB program and Fairmont’s Response to Intervention (RTI) program, a data-driven, systematic approach to intervene and support students to help them reach their fullest potential.
“I think it’s great that Sen. Lehner would take time out of her busy schedule to come to Fairmont to see education in action,” said VonHandorf. “I hope she got the feeling that we do meet the needs of all students here at Fairmont High School. We are training kids to ride the RTA bus and count money and preparing kids for Princeton and Harvard – all in the same building. Not many schools in America are able to do both really, really well.”
Lehner carved two hours from her busy schedule for the Fairmont visit, but VonHandorf wishes she could have spent even more time here. “We have some incredible teachers and staff here,” he said. “I wish she could have met more of them and heard their stories. We also have a tremendous student population that we are very proud of.”
Career Tech Coordinator Liz Jensen wanted to make sure Lehner not only saw the Career Tech facilities and programs but also met with some of the students in those programs. “We feel like the students are the true success story in the Career Tech Center,” said Jensen. “We were extremely proud of our students and how passionate they were when they talked to Sen. Lehner about the Career Tech Center and their field of choice. And I think that when students are involved in something they like, it shows when they talk about it.”
Lehner, in fact, commented about her positive impressions of the students she met. “I was really struck with how articulate the students were about their work,” said Lehner.
According to Lehner, Fairmont really stood out. “There are a variety of programs here,” she said. “Whether interested in automotive repair or IB studies, students have the choice to follow their passion.”