What is the MATEC model?

Faribault educators visit Marshall career training classes for possible replication

Photo by Karin Elton Marshall High School student Rachel VanKeulen talks to visitors from Faribault about why she likes taking a certified nursing assistant class with adults from the Marshall community.

MARSHALL — Sixteen community members from Faribault traveled west to Marshall last week to visit the Marshall Area Technical and Educational Center. Their goal? To see if the “MATEC model” will work for them.

What is the MATEC model? Making the most out of available resources, working with partners from the public school, higher education, the private sector and government agencies and — most innovative of all, mixing adults and youth in the same classroom.

Representatives from the Faribault Public School, workforce, community college, employers, the chamber and adult education toured MATEC and listened to their counterparts from similar agencies in Marshall tell what has worked for them in implementing courses in which there have been identified as experiencing a worker shortage such as certified nursing assistant and welding. Pat Thomas, the coordinator for Adult Basic Education Southwest Minnesota, said to the group there are three key items to keep in mind when creating and administering the program: “it’s student-focused, employer-driven and a true collaboration.”

Among the Faribault group was Jamie Bente, a Faribault High School principal, who after hearing the presentation and taking the tour of classrooms, said seeing the collaboration among agencies was “amazing.”

He was particularly impressed with the cooperation between educational institutions. “It was interesting to see the equal partnership between the school district and the college — that’s huge. They’re in it for the students who will become better citizens.”

Bente said a meeting with a seven-point agenda involving Faribault stakeholders is being planned.

He said Faribault will “absolutely implement something like what Marshall has.”

The group toured the welding room at the alternative high school and were told that MATEC is housed in the former Shopko building so the welding room had been the loading dock. Dawn Regnier, Minnesota West Technical and Community College customized training director, said the Career Pathway Training: Certified Nurse Assistant and welding classes started back in 2003 with a grant.

Classes needed at least eight students to be viable. When a class had fewer students than needed, it was backfilled with older adults who needed training.

The pairing of youth and older adults has been successful, said Michelle Noriega, MATEC principal. Feedback has shown that the younger students learn from the older students.

The group visited a CNA classroom that meets three hours a day for two? days a week, which is more geared for adults “because they’re interested in getting in and getting out,” said Thomas. Marshall High School student Rachel VanKeulen graduated from the program that day and told the group she is learning from the older adults’ life experiences.

“At first I looked around and saw all these people who were not may age and I thought it was weird,” she said. But now I got to know everybody and I totally learned from their experiences. Like, they know what it’s like to be working in the workforce and stuff.”

Older student Tyler Thielges said he appreciated the diversity of the class because it prepares him for working at a job where there are all ages and ethnic groups.

“It’s a good program,” he said. “There are different diversities everywhere you go.”

Thomas said the Minnesota West instructor comes to the CNA class two or three times a week and an Adult Education instructor comes in the other days. In addition, “we have a navigator, Kary Boerboom, in the Workforce system, if anybody has a concern — high school or adult — she can find the answer for them. She also teaches employability skills.”

The Faribault and Marshall group had lunch at MATEC where they got to ask questions in an informal setting. Thomas facilitated giving everyone each other’s emails so if anyone has further questions, they can ask someone who has been a part of the program.

“This is truly the model that works best,” said Anna Marie Leland, the community education director from Faribault Public Schools. She has been aware of the pathway classes for around 10 years, because her former job was at the state level with the Department of Education and Economic Development (DEED). She said back then the various agencies operated within their own spheres of expertise.

“Fast forward 10 years later, we’ve got youth and adults in these classrooms getting in-demand certificates and credentials that are filling needs in the community,” sh said. “How can we get our common clients, which are the most vulnerable, training people to complete high school and get training for jobs with sustaining wages. That was the whole impetus behind the thinking 15 years ago. How can we come together as systems to support them?

“Southwest ABE is the model in the state,” she said. “There are a couple of other models too, but Pat and Dawn have really blazed the way.”

The Faribault group got to hear the nuts and bolts of how the courses implemented including funding and how the paperwork is managed.

“Our visit was very helpful to understand each partner’s role, contributions and responsibilities,” said Judy Zeiger, the dean of student affairs at South Central College. “With the Marshall partner’s willingness to share all components of their partnerships, we are better able to envision how we can work together to provide a similar experience in Faribault. This visit helped to understand their partnership so in the end, we can serve students in our communities.”

The collaboration between the high school and local college in Faribault will be easier because of their close proximity, Bente said.