Friday, January 21, 2022

iTECH Up Close and Personal – See it to Believe it!

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry
Immokalee’s iTECH classrooms include Multimedia Design, Nursing, Cyber Security Technology, and many more.

I feel like a dog with a bone – figuratively of course. One of my last columns (April 27 – May 5) was about all the opportunities for students to pursue vocational careers at both Lorenzo Walker Technical College in Naples and iTECH in Immokalee. I decided to drive out to Immokalee and see for myself if the facility and classes matched up with what was offered in Naples. Thanks to the competent enthusiasm of Jerome Williams and Connie Brown, what I discovered during the tour was astonishing.    

Not only was the three-story facility remarkable for its welcoming atmosphere and accommodations for all their programs, it appears that the demand for their programs actually means they will require more space in the near future. What? I thought. For such a small community, how could that be the case?

Take a look at some of the programs they offer; Auto Mechanics (with a former NASCAR pit crew expert), Machining Technologies (with an instructor who knows machining like the back of his hand) Cosmetology (with a gifted teacher who has been recognized on TV and at hair shows for her innovative designs), Nursing (with experienced teachers that were in the field and know and share the realities of the profession) and I could go on. There are talented, dedicated professionals at iTECH, under the direction of award-winning Dorin Oxender, which speaks volumes for their programs and enrollment.

Here are some other certifications that are available.

Digital and Multi-Media Design (build a portfolio of your work and have a certificate on your resume that shows you’re also an Adobe Certified Associate); Cyber Security Technology; Culinary Arts; Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Medical Billing, Early Childhood Education; CNA -Practical Nursing, LPN – Practical Nursing, Building Construction Technology, Business Technology, including Accounting Operations, Legal Administrative Specialist, Medical Administrative Specialist, all of which earn a vocational certificate from ITECH and an industry certification within their program field. They also offer ABE/GED and adult literacy programs.

Their fun competitions are a “must see to believe!” Her students have been working all year to raise money to attend the Premier Orlando International Beauty Event in June, the largest beauty show in the US. Talk about a field trip! By the way, they also take appointments from the community.

Getting back to the demand for classes, students drive from Moore Haven (61 miles), Ft. Myers (35 miles), Clewiston (53 miles), and LaBelle (25 miles). Students are driven, ah, that means committed in this case, to get up before the sunrise and motor to their classes in Immokalee by 8:30. Most are never late.

Cosmetology instructor Delia Lozano inspires her students with challenges, including hair cutting, color and styling.

Imagine taking the Heavy Equipment Mechanics course. Just the size of those engines is intimidating, but certificated students can repair them while in the field with their tools and brains so the Harvester, or whatever big machine is broken down, doesn’t have to be towed at more expense to a shop far away to be repaired.

The mission of iTECH is to provide rigorous and relevant real-world educational experiences using both traditional and distance learning models in order to qualify students for employment and career advancement. After visiting, I can attest to the quality of learning going on at iTECH. There are some classes that I would love to take myself, but with a projected 57% of jobs in the future requiring skilled training like what is demonstrated here and at Lorenzo Walker Technical College in Naples, I have a feeling I’ll be on the Waiting List for a long time.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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