Dayton’s CTE programs are growing exponentially as ceramics teacher Kelli Hascall has embarked on several projects to develop not only the ceramics program, but Dayton’s opportunities for hands-on students seeking to enter the trades.

Glazed tea kettles

Last year, the ceramics class was held in a small area located in the corner of the agricultural woodshop. It was placed in the i3 Center: an intentional space where students of different backgrounds and fields of interest could share ideas, build skills, and create together in an environment built to seat many of Dayton’s technical, agricultural and arts programs. But as the ceramics program began to develop, student interest grew more and more. And as Mrs. Hascall observed this development, she knew that their space would have to grow along with them. So she began advocating for both her program and her students, to utilize a new space on campus.

This year, she moved her classroom to the junior high staff room, once known as the theater room before it was later repurposed. With more room to create, she has noticed a major improvement in student productivity. “Teaching ceramics is so dynamic,” she remarked. “It’s such a process. The move has created a more focused learning experience for students.”

The spinning wheels

As students settle in, the impact on their learning has been transformative. Mrs. Hascall has even developed more plans to extend the learning opportunities through her ceramics program in the future while beginning a new startup program dedicated to trades-focused students who want to build hands-on careers that they’re passionate about.

She is creating a career readiness program for students who are drawn to career technical subjects such as mechanics, welding, agriculture, and technical arts like ceramics. A program built for the students that are not just exclusively agriculture-centered, hammering nails into structures to make wagons and trailers or farm equipment. But students of all ages, boys and girls, perhaps welding the precise lines which join two pieces of an intricate project together. Or, spinning and shaping clay until it becomes a vase to hold flowers. Career technical students come in a diverse variety with talent, passion, and grit. And they are absolutely critical to the development of our modern economy. 

Part of Mrs. Hascall’s aspiration to create this program is to show students that their dreams are achievable and that they have the same ability to succeed as students set to attend four-year universities. 

A mechanics student welds in the metal shop located in the i3 Center

Considering the consequences of having a lack of educational support, Mrs. Hascall explains why these students fall through the cracks. She described an education system that prepares students for post-high school education by recording their acquired accomplishments, and puts them on a track which either outlines success or doesn’t. And if this system lacks support in one department, students who are passionate about that department are invalidated. “The style of learning needs to be changed but even before that, students need to learn how to funnel their passions into a career path.” Mrs. Hascall explained.

Although the program is still in development, Mrs. Hascall expressed her excitement to see it gain momentum. “We’re starting at ground zero,” she acknowledged, quickly shifting her focus to the aspiration of taking her students on field trips to local art schools.  “Students hear about these schools and programs but it’s important for them to see, feel and experience them too.” Further, she highlighted the importance of respecting her students’ passions as crucial building blocks in our growing, team-based economy.

“As a teacher, I know that passion should drive them – and someone needs to listen to that.”

Students work below a display of student-made ceramics projects

Mrs. Hascall has her hands full this year, taking on several personal and professional tasks such as working on her second Masters degree as well as her second endorsement in English Language Learning (ELL). On top of all of these tasks, she is also becoming acquainted with the new staff at the Dayton School District. While programs at Dayton are developing rapidly, the school district is in the process of building trust between new staff. In doing so, they are steadily creating a learning community at the school district which encourages curiosity, exploration, and innovation. She said: “Change is hard but I’m learning that it’s okay. Things are working out.”

Moving forward, Mrs. Hascall has several more plans to develop her CTE career program as well as her ceramics program, which teaches students about the joy of hands-on, technical art. And she anticipates creating a learning environment at the high school that celebrates trades students by giving them the opportunities to explore secondary education with an even greater level of support, encouragement, and pride.


Bevin Schrag Administrator

Bevin Schrag is a writer for Innovate Oregon. While working in social media and marketing at OnlineNW, she is currently studying the arts at Chemeketa Community College, to later become a media designer.