Lewis Flores, the industrial arts teacher for Fowler Junior/Senior High School, is resigning, announced Fowler School Board Vice-President Jason Bitter at the school board meeting on Feb. 4.

Flores taught wood shop, and his departure places Fowler School District in a tough position. Bitter isn't confident that a replacement teacher can be found.

However, Flores' resignation also presents an opportunity for Fowler schools to restructure some of their industrial arts courses, including vocational agriculture, he said.

"We were talking with Brenton, ... and he came up with an idea that we hire another Vo-Ag teacher and basically just absorb wood shop back into the program, and still offer the junior high woods and regular wood shop," said Bitter.

Brenton Ormiston is the Vocational Agriculture and FFA Instructor for Fowler School District.

Bitter said that Fowler schools are planning to focus on an upcoming program called Capturing Kids' Hearts, which aims to connect teachers and students in a way that helps kids want to attend school. The program includes a leadership facet, and Bitter suggested implementing that into a new required course for seventh and eighth graders.

"If you're an Ag teacher in FFA, the team leadership goes right along with FFA," said Bitter. "So he's got an eye on a couple of people that he's talking to about a possible opening that are interested."

Bitter thinks the restructuring of courses would be a huge step for Fowler School District. The Vo-Ag program would get more reimbursement and the program would grow.

Bitter mentioned that as the district's Facilities Master Plan takes shape, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation technology grant could become an option. Additional Ag and Vo-Ag courses would dive deeper into specific subject matters: Ag Business, Ag Soils, Animal Science, etc.

Ormiston and a new Vo-Ag teacher would teach the course loads. In addition, the new Vo-Ag position would be full-time, in contrast to Flores' part-time position. Ormiston would like to participate in some of the wood working coursework, said Bitter.

A construction trades class focusing on basic electrical work, plumbing and like skills is also in consideration, according to Bitter. Students wouldn't be constructing new buildings, but they might be able to practice vocational skills on basic sheds and smaller structures.

Bitter also mentioned restructuring the district's computer courses.

"Right now our 7th and 8th grade take what they call Keyboarding, but then they move into MicroSoft Word, Excel, ..." said Bitter. "We're proposing to move the Keyboarding to fifth and sixth grade, and then we're going to require our high school freshmen to take computer apps where they'll pick up Word, Excel, PowerPoint, all of that in that class, and we'll require them to all take that class."

cburney@ljtdmail.com