Engaging Students in CTE

Happy CTE Month!

Part of engaging students in CTE is not only talking about it throughout the school year, but also showing students the benefits of CTE and how it can prepare them for college and careers after high school. I start each school year by recruiting students for my own CTSO, DECA. DECA itself “prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.”

Everything Career and Technical Education does is to prepare students; prepare them for college, prepare them for careers, prepare them for life. I think that is one reason why I love CTSOs so much! Students receive that hands-on learning in and outside the classroom. There are so many choices students have in CTE. All they need to do is choose a career path and CTE probably has it covered!

To engage students and use them as advocates for CTE, DECA ordered t-shirts this year that say “I AM CTE.” Teachers and students in CTE classes wear their shirts every Thursday during the month of February to get other students talking and recruit for our programs. Business students’ shirts are royal blue, Family and Consumer Science are red, Healthcare is green, Industrial Tech is Gray, Welding is black, and Agriculture is yellow. We plan to reorder shirts for new CTE students every year so this can be an ongoing campaign for Pea Ridge High School.

DECA also participates in Chapter Campaigns to engage in CTE. We work on them in class with our curriculum to then hand over to DECA for our State Conference. Currently, to advocate for CTE Month, DECA has hidden DECA diamonds around the school. Each diamond has a prize written on the back ranging from a free coffee to 50% off a single item from our school-based enterprise. This not only engages CTE students, but students around the high school. When students turn in their DECA diamonds to redeem their prizes, it gives our CTE students a chance to discuss CTE and how important these courses are.

I will never forget when I had a set of parents come up to me my second year of teaching and thanked me for DECA and everything we do. Their son, who had not quite found his niche in high school, discovered it his freshman year when he joined DECA. This student found new friends and discovered new opportunities he otherwise never would have had by engaging in DECA.

THAT is what CTE and CTSO’s do for our students.