Career aspirations of local high school students can get a tremendous head start through the New Market Skills Center, hosted by the Tumwater School District. The wide-ranging courses help students become experienced, well-grounded, and certified in the skills they need to move forward after graduation. The opportunities at the skill center can be used by high school students in 11 districts including Adna, Centralia, North Thurston, Oakville, Olympia, Rainier, Rochester, Shelton, Tenino, Tumwater and Yelm.

a diesel engine on a table at New Market Skills Center in Tumwater
New Market Skills Center students in diesel and marine technology get into the intricacies of engines. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

College and Non-College Bound Students have Opportunities at New Market Skills Center

It is an erroneous notion that New Market Skills Center is only for those who are not pursuing a four-year college degree. Preparation is done for post-secondary studies that may or may not include a university. By attending NMSC, some students will be better prepared for their college or community college experience. Others will be ready for an apprenticeship or advanced certifications, which is an excellent beginning for those looking for a trade career over college. “It’s a launching pad,” explains Matt Ishler, executive director. The opportunities are expansive, with some of the most popular being Culinary Arts, Construction Trades, and Veterinary Assistant.

New Market Skills Center also offers a path for students who do not intend to go to college. “We will be staying in the trades,” explains a young man who was on break with a friend from their Construction Trades class.

“I learn ten times more here than in a regular classroom. The hands-on works for me,” adds the other student. Programs offer direct access to union jobs that pay over $60,000 annually. With a Certificate of Excellence in the automotive program, a graduate may find initial employment earning $50,000 a year.

medical mannequins for practice at New Market Skills Centers
Medical assistants at New Market Skills Center practice on human mannequins, who are generally cooperative patients. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

“Students who passed all their Certified Nursing Assistant credentials were all employed if they wanted to be,” says Matt. Nursing assistants may also use their experience as a stepping stone to become a nurse, doctor or other medical professional.

Courses are primarily for junior and seniors, though there are possibilities for sophomores. Some programs take a year to complete. Others require two. The popularity of the culinary arts, construction and veterinary programs have led to waiting lists. The 725 students at New Market Skills Center take the majority of their core classes at their home high school. Then they spend half a day at New Market in their program of choice. Transportation to and from the center is provided.

Andrew Chappel, a Tumwater High School senior, is in the Video Game Programming class. He learned right before Winter Break that he has been accepted at DigiPen Institute of Technology where he plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He’s already designing and programming games.

“We are focused on skill development and the next step,” says Matt. The Center teaches employability skills, too. Students learn the importance of attitude, taking direction, reliability and attendance. Accountability happens at school, as it does in the workplace. “Choices matter,” emphasizes Matt. Growing up and being personally responsible is not always easy.

Tumwater High School student Andrew Chappel works across multiple screens as he creates games in his video game programming class.
Tumwater High School student Andrew Chappel works across multiple screens as he creates games in his video game programming class. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

Discover a World of Career Options at New Market Skills Center

The New Market Skills Center has the following programs:

  • Art & Animation
  • Automotive Service Technology
  • Collision Repair Technology
  • Construction Trades
  • Cosmetology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Culinary Arts
  • Diesel and Marine Technology
  • Professional Medical Careers: Nursing
  • Firefighting and EMS Careers
  • Medical Assistant
  • Veterinary Assistant
  • Video Game Programming
  • Navy JROTC
  • Summer School when the Center offers short two short sessions to give incoming 9-12 graders a chance to experience programs and see if they are interested in pursuing them further.
New Market Skills Center in Tumwater fire truck under a large car port
Firefighting and EMS careers are supported at New Market Skills Center in Tumwater with a fire truck on campus. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

Some outcomes from these programs are obvious, such as a chef from the Culinary Arts, but others may become a restaurant manager, baker, butcher, hotel manager or food journalist. Those in Criminal Justice may have interest in being a lawyer, dispatcher, bailiff, or correctional officer, as well as a police officer. Opportunities in Construction Trades – beyond a laborer – are carpenter, cement mason, construction management, architectural drafter, plumber or pipefitter. Veterinary Assistants may become biologists, groomers, animal keepers, trainers or veterinarians. The Cosmetology program supports those who want to be a barber, hairstylist, make-up artist, manicurist, esthetician or salon owner.

Touring the New Market Skills Center campus leads from one vocational learning environment to the next, a veritable Disneyworld of careers. Massive engine blocks are lined up in the Diesel and Marine Technology building where ceilings are warehouse high. Walk along to the next section to find cars up on hoists for hands-on learning in Collision Repairs. The construction zone is a work site for all skill levels. The stack of gear in the Firefighting and EMS classroom is used for practice drills. Double monitors sit on the desks in the Video Game Programming rooms. The Medical Careers section has dummies on gurneys. It’s a valuable resource with so many options close together.

Students Offer Services to Public

New Market Skills Center pre-vet tech student Jade Williams holding a French bulldog
Jade Williams instructs the pre-vet tech program and sometimes gets help from Penelope, who recommends the dog washing service that happens on Fridays at NMSC. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

Students get some real-life exposure working with customers in some of the New Market Skills Center programs:

  • The deli is open Tuesday thru Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Food is made by Culinary Arts students.
  • The Veterinary Assistant program offers dog washing on Fridays and includes other services available. These services are very popular and reservations are needed. You can call 360-570-4442 for reservations.
  • The Fosbre Academy of Hair Design is an auxiliary learning space for aspiring hair designers to have actual customers.

The New Market Skills Center is a jewel for our community and our future. We certainly need young people who are ready and willing to pursue meaningful and rewarding careers in varied areas. I want the contractor I hire to be reliable and skilled. That is the same for the veterinarian who cares for my pets and the doctor who cares for me! Explore the New Market Skills Center website or have your student talk to their high school counselor. An exciting world of career possibilities awaits.

New Market Skills Center
7299 New Market Street SW, Tumwater


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