With summer in full swing I see students working hard at their summer jobs and recent High School graduates getting ready for the next phase in life. But have you ever paused to wonder what the young people in your life will do when they graduate high school? The kind of career my son, Ed Jr. will have when he reaches that phase of life occupies much of my thoughts. Luckily, in our region there are so many opportunities for students to prepare for their future while still in high school.
The more I travel around to different schools, the more career preparation I see taking place; your students’ futures have obviously been on your minds too!
According to OSPI, Career & Technical Education (CTE) is at the forefront of innovation in education in Washington. OSPI’s CTE web page discusses how each year, thousands of CTE students graduate from high school with career goals, job skills and leadership skills knowing exactly where they will go next to further their academic and hands-on education/training.
If a student you know has not considered taking CTE classes, then this coming year is the time to change that. Schools everywhere are continually adding new courses helping students get hands on experience in skills that employers are clamoring for. There are amazing things that are happening in your schools!
From the Small Business Management and Video Game Design classes at Oak Harbor High School to Small Engine repair and Veterinary Science classes at Ferndale High School, there is something for every interest level. Mount Vernon High School’s website has a unique video sampling of course offerings; there is even a CTE class in aviation! Friday Harbor High School has an exceptional culinary arts program where the teacher and students prepare the cuisine for that day (I can still taste the barbeque breaded chicken sandwich on homemade bread…Yum!) CTE classes not only help prepare students for their futures, they are fun as well! In fact, Robert Hand, our 2019 Washington State teacher of the year, is a CTE instructor!
If there is a vocational topic that is not offered at the high school the student attends, don’t worry, hope is not lost. Thousands of students are getting their core academic credit at their home high school for part of the day and then transported to partner schools to focus on applied academics via CTE. Some partnerships have formed between high schools in the area such as Whatcom counties’ Meridian High School which offers a welding program where students earn certifications which are required for welding careers in the “real world”. Other partner schools are specifically designed to work with a student’s high school so the student can explore career choices and get training for their dream career all while working towards a diploma. The NWESD region is fortunate to have the following schools providing dozens of hands on training opportunities: Northwest Career and Technical Academy (NWCTA) in Mt. Vernon, Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center and WorkForce Development Center (both in Everett), and Marine Technology Center in Anacortes (apart of NWCTA). These schools accept students from not just from their own county but the surrounding ones as well.
There is a fantastic video from Advance CTE for those who want to find out more about Career Technical Education. Best wishes for an enjoyable summer and as you go about your days, please smile and wave to all those students you see working out there.