Great Oaks Career Campuses adapts to train students for today’s businessesEric Spangler He may be the superintendent of Great Oaks Career Campuses, but that’s not Harry Snyder’s title. Officially, Snyder’s title is president and CEO.
That’s because Great Oaks Career Campuses, one of the largest career-technical school districts in the country, is truly an alliance with businesses in the region so his title reflects the terminology that companies use and understand, says Snyder.
“It’s really business and industry creating our programs that best suit them,” he says.
How closely are Great Oaks and businesses intertwined? Take Great Oaks’ aviation maintenance technician program at its Laurel Oaks campus. “It is a program that is aligned with the Federal Aviation Administration’s general airframe and power plant certificate,” he says.
The program uses the same equipment and tools to work on an airframe that an FAA-certificated airframe mechanic would use and the curriculum is created in conjunction with businesses in the aircraft industry.
That same cooperation with businesses runs throughout the 31 career and technical education programs Great Oaks offers the 2,800 junior and senior high school students enrolled in this year’s classes. Those high school students from 36 area school districts are prepared for careers and college at the four campuses—Diamond, Laurel, Live and Scarlet.
The high school programs include career and technical training in such varied fields as automotive technology; commercial and residential electricity; construction technologies; cosmetology; culinary arts and hospitality services; dental assisting; engineering technologies and robotics; firefighting/emergency medical services; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; law enforcement; secondary practical nursing and welding.
The key to making sure students are prepared for a career and college is always adapting to the needs of businesses, says Snyder. An example of that adaptation is one of the most popular programs at Great Oaks—web applications and game development.
“What’s happening is the industries are adapting to new technologies so our career-tech schools have to adjust to that changing environment,” he says.
In addition to high school students, adults can choose a dozen full-time programs as well as part-time career certification classes and short-term classes for enjoyment and lifelong learning at Great Oaks Career Campuses. Snyder says Great Oaks will touch about 17,000 adults this year through those programs.
The majority of adult students—about 14,000—are in the public safety service sectors, he says. “So if you’re a firefighter you might have to be recertified in CPR or fire tower rappelling or fire hose maintenance. If you’re a police officer you might have to be recertified in firearms and we have a firing range.”
In Hamilton County alone 30 different municipalities use Great Oaks facilities for continuing education opportunities, Snyder says. “So we touch a lot of our communities,” he says.
And that’s the reason that Great Oaks has thrived the past 50 years, he says. “Because we do provide innovative career tech training that empowers not only our students but our communities,” says Snyder.