As a construction instructor with Northern California Construction Training (NCCT), Mick Anckner is used to teaching young people how to use their hands to build things. He works at Elinor Lincoln Hickey Jr./Sr. High School, an alternative education community school operated by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE). Anckner typically teaches his classes how to use practical math to measure wood and how to cut it using circular saws. Now, due to the distance learning requirements related to COVID-19, he has been forced onto an online platform like many other teachers.
“It’s kind of a culture shock to come here and just not see kids and not be able to work with them,” Anckner said. “My biggest thing is connections and building those relationships with the students.”
Anckner’s online video lessons focus on topics such as workplace safety, employer and employee safety responsibilities, and construction careers. He says it’s been a challenge to adapt a typically hands-on program to a virtual environment. Students will be getting boxes of tools, nails, and pre-cut wood to allow them to do hands-on construction projects at home. “It’s been a challenge, but I think it’s made me a better teacher to try to find new creative ways.”
Twenty students from SCOE’s Community Schools Program are currently enrolled. The construction program will also be expanding to include students from SCOE’s Senior Extension Program, which gives at-risk students extra time and personalized assistance to complete their high school education.
Community Schools Principal Lisa Alcalá says that, along with helping students understand the relevance of math, the construction course gives students confidence and keeps them engaged in school. “It gives them a reason to be here,” she says. “It gives them a goal to shoot for and something to do. So, everything starts to have a purpose.”