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A glimpse into the future

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Countdown begins for Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning

Editor’s Note: This is the first of what will be monthly articles about Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning as the countdown to the new school opens. To see the schematics and keep track of the progress, visit www.bossierschools2012.com. 

Each day that passes, Jayda Spillers grows more excited as she passes by 1841 Swan Lake Road. The newly appointed Principal knows what awaits students and the community once Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning opens its doors in Fall 2015.

“It will be bittersweet, but we are so excited to be less than a year away from opening the doors to the most innovative student learning environment in Bossier Parish,” Spillers said. “We have been working with architects room by room to make it state-of-the-art and to meet business and industry needs in our region.”

Although Spillers is the new occupant of the principal’s office, she worked as Assistant Principal for eight years alongside Carol Jean Johnston, the long-time head of Bossier Parish Technical School. Together, the duo strongly advocated for a new career and technical education high school on this side of the Red River. For nearly two decades, BPTS has been housed at Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport, where Bossier Parish students are bused to attend classes.

Following a successful bond referendum in April 2012, their dream is becoming reality. Johnson, who retired this past year, is now eagerly watching Spillers and new Assistant Principal Patricia Kimbrough carry forward the vision of BPSTIL.

“Kids have more options than ever today in Career and Technical Education,” Spillers said. “Here they have the opportunity to learn skills and step out work ready or to continue their post-secondary education, whether it is a technical or community college or four-year university.”

One thing sure to make Spillers cringe is someone calling her school a vo-tech. Students not only can acquire valuable industry-based certifications in such areas as welding, collision repair and Emergency Medical Technician, but they may also accrue college credit through Dual Enrollment. The same goes for students in Certified Nursing Assistant, Pharmacy Technician and CISCO Networking programs. They, too, receive college credit and certifications. No matter what path a student chooses, Spillers’ hope for them is the same.

“I want them to be a step ahead of the competition. I want their electives to be meaningful, for these kids to be career and college ready, and for them to be proud of what they have accomplished when they leave here,” she said. “I also want employers to know they are getting a quality employee and for students to feel empowered when they enter college.”

One way to ensure students are workforce ready is a strong focus this year on soft skills, a need cited by business and industry leaders. BPSTIL‘s 2015-16 curriculum is also being crafted to align with workforce demands. The 110,000 square feet facility will enable the addition of courses such as Pre-Engineering and Pre-Law, and the expansion of others, like welding and culinary arts.

“That shows our commitment to build our programs as our business and industry’s needs have changed,” Spillers said. “We want to be responsive. We want our community partners to feel they can come to us for their workforce needs.”

Sonja Bailes

Public Relations Liaison, Bossier Schools