New Davies leaders seek to clarify misconceptions

New Davies leaders seek to clarify misconceptions

LINCOLN – The William M. Davies Jr. Career & Technical High School is in new, though familiar, hands. Adam Flynn-Tabloff, who has spent his entire career at Davies, has been named director of the school.

Flynn-Tabloff, who is entering his 13th year at Davies, began his career there as science teacher before being named supervisor of academics, a position similar to assistant principal at a traditional high school. Most recently, he served for one year as assistant director.

“I’ve been happy here ever since I got here,” Flynn-Tabloff told The Breeze, adding that he has lived and breathed Davies for more than a decade, familiarizing himself with the school’s programming and aiding in the mission to produce prepared and productive graduates.

“I believe in the mission of this school to provide kids with academics and career and technical education at the same time, so when they leave they can take whatever path they choose,” he said.

A new face on the leadership team at Davies is Jax Adele, the school’s new marketing and communications specialist. Adele, who most recently served as marketing coordinator for the School of Rock, said she’s looking forward to her return to high school.

“I loved my high school career, so being able to come back into a high school where I get to work with students in such a diverse environment with such amazing programs is going to be a lot of fun,” Adele said. She’s also looking forward to advising the school’s audio/visual club.

With one month left before students return, Adele and Flynn-Tabloff say they’re working on “building a positive school culture.” To them, that means a place that’s inclusive, diverse, positive, welcoming, celebratory, user-friendly and transparent.

“We want students and teachers to come back to an environment where they want to be … one that feels fresh, new and signifies positive change. The previous director took the school in a great direction and we want to take it to the next level,” Flynn-Tabloff said.

Part of the school’s forward-progress will be ditching what the staff sees as a negative perception about vocational or technical high schools: that voc/tech programming, designed for those kids who aren’t cut out college, will land them in a “dirty job” after graduation.

“That isn’t really accurate. There is such a demand for these trained workers that they often make more money than recent college graduates at a fragment of the debt,” Flynn-Tabloff said.

He added that students can both receive career and technical education in high school and later attend a traditional college.

“If nothing else it will enable them to get a job to pay for their schooling while in college. We have to help people realize you can do both,” he said.

Additionally, the very nature of so-called blue-collar jobs has changed from the days of old as technology progresses. For example, Flynn-Tabloff said, “being an auto technician now is a fundamentally different thing than it was 20 years ago. It is all computer operated today … if you go into any of those facilities now, they’re state-of-the-art.”

Flynn-Tabloff hopes to change the misconception about CTE high schools can change by pumping out more success stories to better help people understand the benefit of the programs.

“We want the community and the state to know what we’re doing here. We want to open our doors to people ... this should be an economic engine for the entire state,” he said of Davies. “There is so much activity going on here. I’ve been here 13 years and we’ve never had a summer this busy.”

Among physical improvements to the facility happening this summer, Adele is working on creating new signage to welcome students and visitors and create a new feeling upon entrance. Display cases in the atrium have been cleaned out, and new flags have been hung to capture the diversity of the school’s population.

Students will return to a new Instructional Services Hub, a second entrance that will create a one-stop shop for parents visiting the school, housing offices for guidance, the Office of Workforce Development, supervisor of academics, supervisor of CTE and Office for Diverse Learners.

Major construction projects on the campus include a new machine technology CTE area in the school’s former carpentry shop, which will include state-of-the-art equipment and technology to meet today’s standards of education. Construction crews are concurrently expanding the biotechnology CTE area within its existing footprint, plus an addition.