I believe in these kids,” Dick Chamblin says of his sixty-six Sumner High School students. “They are amazing. Their ability to learn is phenomenal.”

Chamblin, a facilities maintenance engineering instructor for Bates Technical College, has been teaching construction trades at Sumner the past five years. His success is one of the reasons Sumner High has opted to invite Bates to take over its entire vocational education department.

“It’s a joy to teach these young men and women,” Chamblin says. “They’ve used their talents and skills to build storage sheds, concrete walkways, classrooms and even a video production studio for the high school.”

Arranging his students into small teams, Chamblin mentors his class through every step of the construction process, from creating a design, to obtaining city permits and school district approvals, framing, drywall, finishing work and final inspections.

“Now there are even more opportunities for these students,” says Chamblin.

Bates will provide courses in fire protection, computer integrated manufacturing, diesel/automotive mechanics, metals and welding trades and computer technology, not to mention the construction trades classes Chamblin has been teaching.

“Anytime the school districts and colleges can work closer together in providing education, the community benefits,” says Lisa Edwards of Pierce County Careers Consortium, an organization with a mission to help Pierce County students receive an education that prepares them for successful careers.

“The Bates classes at Sumner High School—it’s a way we are adapting to the needs of the public,” states Chamblin. He describes how the partnership is a time and money saving venture for students and their families because the student may earn both college and high school credit simultaneously, referred to as dual credit. Edwards states that the dual credit arrangement can save a high school student up to $1,000 in college tuition before graduating from high school.

If the level of student interest in Chamblin’s past classes is duplicated by the new programs, there will be a waiting list for each course. His commitment to each student’s success is one of the reasons for his success so far.

“I have a philosophy,” says Chamblin. ” If you are here in my classroom, it’s not an option to fail. There is not a kid here that can’t be reached if given the time. I’m not a quitter, I think that helps.”

Author Teresa Enslin is a marketing specialist with Bates Technical College.