Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School: Navigation Nights

Posted on Categories Engagement, Recruitment and Retention

At a Glance

Faced with the challenge of learning loss as a result of the COVID 19 Pandemic in 2020-2021, the Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School (BAVTS) created an after school program to support their students. What initially started as an idea to provide extra lab time to students after school quickly evolved to also utilizing this time for additional learning in social-emotional areas while focusing on career and post-secondary planning.


As a result of the COVID 19 Pandemic, in the 2020-2021 School Year, BAVTS had to shift to hybrid instruction resulting in students attending in person only 40% of the time. This dramatically impacted the ability of instructors to prepare students for the annual NOCTI exams. The last time the NOCTI Standardized test had been administered was the spring of 2019, and there was no option to excuse students from testing in the spring of 2022.  Therefore, the administrative team chose to allocate 20% of American Rescue Plan (ARP)/ Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to address learning loss. The primary goals were to maintain or improve on their 2019 NOCTI standardized test scores and decrease the impact of learning loss on students.  These goals were identified as a need within the student body that was supported by student and staff survey results.  Additionally,  stakeholders from the community volunteered to support the endeavors in career and post-secondary planning.

What were the essential conditions that made this project successful? 

  • Students and staff were surveyed on general interest and which day(s) would be best for them.
  • Instructional Staff were paid their per diem rate. Classroom teachers received an extra hour per session event for preparation time.
  • Attending students were given a ten dollar Wawa gift card to cover transportation costs.
  • Snacks and dinners were provided for all that attended.
  • Occurrence:  Every other Wednesday (November 2021- April 2023) from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Who was involved in helping to implement the practice? How were they involved (specific roles)?

  • School: Provided the funding and support for the idea through the ESSER grant.
  • Facilitators:  Organized snacks, dinners, presenters, etc.
  • Instructors: Provided instructional support to help recoup student learning loss.
  • Students:  Participated in the  provided instructional time after regular school hours.

What was the timeline for developing and then implementing the practice?

  • The idea was presented in October 2021, and implemented by November 2021.
  • Updates were made to the program as needed.

Were there any challenges when trying to implement the practice? If so, how were they addressed?

  • Detailed documentation of expenses was required for the federal grant.
  • At times it was challenging to schedule presenters/guest speakers.


From an employer standpoint, the program provided a vehicle to engage with students and from that, recruit them to their business/industry.  The program was overwhelmingly successful, as demonstrated  by the following quotes collected from a survey:

Student Testimonials:

  • “Yes, I was more confident and knowledgeable of the activities we were learning in class.”
  • “It freed up time that I’d typically use for NOCTI, allowing me to get more classwork done.”
  • “I do think that participating in Navigation Nights impacted my behavior and engagement in my classroom during the traditional school day. By attending Navigation Nights I feel like it better prepared me for NOCTI, and it helped me better understand the things we were doing in class.”
  • “Yes. I used them to work with my teacher and catch up on missed work and to learn new things to maximize my skills learned during my time here.”
  • “It did impact me in a good way because I felt more confident in my knowledge and hands on skills.”


Instructor Testimonials:

  • “Navigation Nights allowed my students and I to interact on a different level both during the formal classroom setting and also while in the cafeteria enjoying a nice meal. It also gave my students an opportunity to get to know their classmates a little better. I must say that my PM class has formed a bond with each other unlike any I have seen in my 37 years in the classroom. They will call out their classmates when they are not doing what they need to be doing, but they also have each other’s back and are very supportive.”
  • “The students that participated in Navigation nights were able to help other students the following day with new material or difficult tasks. Even though many underperforming students didn’t attend, they benefited from seeing other students complete tasks correctly.”

Suggestions and Tips for those who may want to implement the practice.

  • Transportation:  having shuttles from the technical school to the students’ sending school was a huge benefit to the program.  It provided more students the opportunity to participate because parents were able to pick their child up from their local high school, rather than driving all the way to the technical school.
  • Documentation: gathering detailed documentation of student and staff participation that meets the needs of both the business office and federal grant requirements, along with the limitations of staff involvement constraints.


Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School

Glenn Milositz, Dean of Students,
Angela Thom, Guidance Counselor,