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Innovative Ohio Charter Schools Train Students for Oil and Gas Industry Jobs

The majority of American children attend traditional public schools. However, most public schools follow a college bound curriculum that does not meet the career choices for students not wishing to pursue a college education. Therefore, as the demand for skilled workers in the trades rises, parents are increasingly looking to alternative education choices for their children; one popular choice is charter schools.

Although the number of charter school students is small compared to the current total of 50.4 million attending public schools, their increasing popularity is demonstrated by the doubling of charter school students from 1.3 million in 2008 to 2.6 million in 2014. To handle the increases in demand, the number of charter schools in the U.S. is now at approximately 6,800. These schools are spread across 43 states and the District of Columbia.

The characteristics of charter schools vary from state to state, but basically, a charter school is a publicly funded school that typically has more flexibility over curriculum and teaching methods than traditional public schools. The name derives from the operational charter the school makes with applicable governing authorities.

One example of a specialized charter school is the Utica Shale Academy (USA) in Columbiana County, Ohio. Due to its location, Columbiana County is considered part of Appalachia, sharing a common culture with neighboring western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This area is active in shale oil production.

USA meets the needs of those students wishing to go on to college studies, but also specializes in training students for careers in the oil and gas industry. USA’s unique focus is clear from its mission statement:

The Utica Shale Academy provides a unique and vigorous learning environment through a specialized academic program which responds to employers’ and industries' current and emerging and changing global workforce needs and expectations through business/school partnerships.

The school’s overall goal is for students to develop work habits that foster independence, self-awareness, and commitment to personal growth, as well as achieve competency in industry and academic standards. USA’s mission statement is backed by their oil and gas industry centered curriculum. The following is an example of a course in the program:

Introduction to Well Control. This self-paced interactive multimedia program takes a rig hand through the basic concepts of well control in an easy to understand, straight-forward manner. Course objectives include: Well Control Equipment, Units of Measure, Hydrostatic Pressure, Pressure Balance, Causes of Kicks, Controlling the Well, and Restoring the Well.

Other sample courses, each with unique objectives, are:

IADC Rig Pass: A basic orientation of rig operations and safe work practices. (IADC RigPass certificate available).

Introduction to Petroleum Industry DIT: This course is designed for individuals that are interested in a comprehensive understanding of the upstream and downstream operations of the petroleum industry.

Introduction to Petroleum Industry DIT Drilling Focus: This course is designed for individuals that are interested in a comprehensive understanding of the upstream operations of the petroleum industry with a focus on drilling.

Introduction to Petroleum Industry DIT Production Focus: This course is designed for individuals that are interested in a comprehensive understanding of the downstream operations of the petroleum industry with a focus on production.