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FLEXO Magazine : January 2009
FTA TODAY South Carolina’s CATE program incorporates print education curriculum developed by Printing Industries of America. “Flexo is technically not in the curriculum,” said Howell. “But we work it in on the prepress side. The actual career is ‘print.’ The differ- ence rests mainly in prepress. The rest is just a mat- ter of how you get ink on paper.” Despite the distracting offset requirements, Howell actually prefers this situation. “This way it is your choice what and how you teach flexo. Some states put flexography in the advanced program, but not South Carolina.” JOB ORIENTED Deep down, there is much more going on in Howell’s classes than simple primers on graphics and printing. The weekly class structure is set up like a print shop or prepress house. “Monday is assignment day,” he said. “I give the kids a list of projects that need to get done and they are responsible for getting to them all. It’s like a production schedule. On Friday, everything is due. It gives me a sense of who is organized and who is not.” Once students get the handle of it, he said, they will come in everyMonday morning and check the production schedule. “That’s a good work habit to have,” he declared. “Unlike in other classes, where the teacher tells them what to do on that day, I give them a list, and they have to balance their time to get it all done.” Stephen Rice checks register on press. Student work produced at Fort Mill. Early in the Level I course,Howell attempts to identify those students who lack the skills necessary to succeed in this indus- try, as well as recruit those who will. “These are life skills. Most schools assume kids are going to learn these on their own. But I see this as being a benefit to any job they may end up in.” This kind of environment is not easy for all students. “I can get a range of types in here, from valedictorians to those who can’t seem to accomplish anything. It’s a good taste of Americana. It’s the way the real world is. Some of my students take all advanced classes and are used to being with so-called ‘smart’ kids. But that’s not the case here. You can’t pick and choose who you work with, so I assign groups and sometimes there are problems. But that’s what happens in the industry and they need to learn to work together.” Maintaining that workplace-like environment is important to Howell. “These students are not used to working yet. Too many get into get-project-done mode. I don’t want it done, I want it done right. They have to produce quality product,” he said. Howell continued, “One student once commented, ‘You are never satisfied.’ I told him, ‘That’s my job. You have to please me. That is your job. One day you are going to have a boss who will want, want, want!’ Other times I am told I don’t give them confi- dence, to which I respond, ‘Are you working for cookies or are you working for a paycheck?’” He helps reinforce this notion by offering services to the high school. “We do signs for the locker rooms, decals for the sports teams, and parking permits.” Again, this helps the kids take pride in their work. “They love seeing their work all over the school.” www. f le xography. org JANUARY 2009 FLEXO 63
End of Year 2008