The Northeast Kingdom is mostly small towns separated by miles and miles. Sometimes it’s featured in trout fishing magazines. It also has some of the highest unemployment and lowest wages in the state. Its beautiful place. And it’s a hard place to live.
I was up at the St. Johnsbury Academy a couple weeks ago, which is one of the gateways to the Kingdom. My sister and brother in law both work there. And I’ve always been curious about the career and technical classes at the school. They have the most incredible CTE facilities I’ve ever seen (pictures below), and what makes them really special is they’re all on campus. In a lot of places, ‘tech kids’ are bused off to other campuses…which, when you’re in high school, can’t help but send the message that kids in English class don’t need to know what those tech kids are doing, and the tech kids don’t need to bother much with English classes. But at the Academy, it’s all in one place, and 80% of the general school population takes CTE classes at least once in their high school careers.
After spending some time with students and teachers, I had that rare experience when you know you’re seeing something important…something that’s so obvious and right, that it’s almost hiding in plain sight.
If you listen to Rumble Strip, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about problems. Big, complicated problems. So when I watched 19 kids in hard hats rewiring a building on their own school campus, I didn’t think, ‘well isn’t that nice?’ Instead, I felt like I was looking way upstream of all the problems, and seeing a solution. Not the only solution. Just…a solution. One solution.
This show is a kind of valentine to all the people learning to work in the world and learning to make things. And the people who are helping them to get there….
Music by Vermont musicians Brian Clark and Mike Donofrio
Thank you Emily Kueppers for your beautiful logging!