Invalid username and/or password.

Forgot Password?

Header Logo


Pennsylvania Association for Career and Technical Education Winter 2011 Newsletter


Techniques Advert Events Partners Countdown

Green Homes Put Lancaster CTC on the Map

Work With National Organization Puts Lancaster Students in Forefront of Green Building 

Their job is to build a $400,000 model home that is not only a “green” home, but is used to help develop the standards for green homes. And they have to do it in 10 months because it is part of their school project.

It may sound like a daunting task for the seniors in the construction technologies program at the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, but they have completed and sold two homes and are breaking ground on the third.

The four-home development behind the Mount Joy campus for the CTC is called Apprentice Green, a name that fits exactly what goes on in the construction of these homes.

Highlighting the Homes
Michael Dodson, building project coordinator, has been involved with Apprentice Green since its inception in 2006 and swells with pride when showing off the homes.

“This is the best job, watching young folks learning,” he said, standing in front of the second home that was built. Behind him, the carpentry students laid out the initial framing for the third home. “I know these kids are getting something out of it that they can take with them in their future careers.”

It was this desire to help these young students get involved in an evolving field and get some real world experience that caught the attention of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center. The Center partnered with Lancaster CTC and helped guide the program.

“We put the team in place and NAHB ran the program,” explained Dodson. “They laid the foundation and got us off to the right start.”

Twelve of the CTC’s programs are involved with the homes’ construction, everything from floral and landscaping to sheet metal and heavy equipment operation. The work is done by the students under the supervision of a team of instructors, manufacturers and professional subcontractors. Scientists from the NAHB Research Center guide the program and check in periodically to make sure the home is continuing down the right path as a green home.

Some of the features Dodson discussed during a tour include:

  • a landscape plan that uses native plants and minimizes soil loss
  • stockpiled and stabilized topsoil for later use
  • recycled content materials used like fly ash concrete
  • a rainwater harvesting system that stores 2,600 gallons of water to operate laundry, yard faucets and toilets
  • a geothermal heat pump, which is twice as efficient as a standard heat pump

To learn more about building green, visit: 


It took the students two years to build the first home, but NAHB was so impressed with what the students accomplished they used the home as one of six in the nation to help build the standards for green home certification.

The second home was constructed a bit differently, with a breezeway and detached garage to help with air quality. The second home received the gold level for the National Green Building Standard. The home surpasses even the EnergySmart Home Scale for green homes.

Once the homes are complete, they are included in a local parade of homes show and sold on the regular market. Money made off the sale goes to pay off any money borrowed for the home and to start building the next one.

The homes have been well-received. Before the homes are occupied, they are used as a training facility for green construction. Some other schools in the state have inquired about starting similar programs at their CTCs. The program has also won NAHB’s Green Building Award for Research, the Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Golden Apple Award for Applied Learning, the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence and the Lancaster Planning Commission Smart Growth Award for Community Capacity.

Dodson explained that the homes are part of a Community Education Project with NAHB Research Center and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project. The community education piece showcases to other schools, organizations, and the local industry the latest advances in building technologies and green building practices, and the economics of incorporating these practices.

The Student Component
Dodson loves talking about the homes, but it is because he loves seeing what these students can do. “The students are so proud,” he said. “They bring their friends and family to see the finished house.”

Rich Burley, carpentry instructor at the Brownstown campus, has also worked on all of the homes in the development. “They really don’t get a better line of work than in this program,” he said. “They get exactly what they would get at a real employer.”

And employers seek out their students. Burley says, “Employers love our students because they already have the basics and some depth of knowledge. They call us and tell us who they are looking for and a lot of the time we have someone for them. They like finding people this way rather than putting an ad in the paper.”

And the students realize the value of a project like this, as well. Nat Kotzmeyer, a 2010 graduate, now works for Steigel Construction. The Apprentice Green home was the first home he ever built. While he worked on the carpentry and framing of the home, he learned the basic skills he needed for his career. “Everything I learned I apply now,” he said. “The program was definitely a neat experience.”

It is the collaboration of hundreds of students just like Kotzmeyer that makes these homes a success. And it is the collaboration of local businesses and national organizations together with a strong CTC community that has made this program a success. “I could not be more proud of the students, teachers, administrators, and the board,” said Dodson.

PA-ACTE Winter 2011 Newsletter Green Home

Designing a Programs of Study Curriculum

Two Teachers Share Their Approaches to Getting the Most out of the Program of Study Framework 

For the past several years, culinary arts instructor Dave Dunster and health care technology instructor Linda Hoover have been using the Programs of Study framework at Susquehanna Career and Technology Center to direct their classes’ instruction.

It was not easy at first. According to Hoover, “The first year, I started going through and attacking the program. I felt like I needed to get through all of the pieces in a section at once. I realized quickly that this was difficult. I needed to look at what I was teaching in general rather than go through by task.”

The Program of Study’s main purpose is to move students from secondary to postsecondary education successfully. It includes coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant career and technical content in a coordinated, non-duplicative progression of courses that align secondary education with postsecondary education to adequately prepare students to succeed in postsecondary education. For example, Dunster’s program transfers credits to Keystone LCC and Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The Program of Study framework, as Dunster described it, is a series of competencies students need to complete for graduation. For example, there would be a series of tasks under a topic like sanitation that students would have to make sure they can complete competently. “Everything they learn can be broken down into the tasks under the program of study,” he explains.

Dunster uses the program of study as a guide for his 60 students starting on the first day of class. “I put the programs of study in a student book they must complete to graduate. This way, they know what is going to happen and what they need to do. It gives them an idea of what they will be doing.“

Dunster’s students keep the book with them while they are in class to check off tasks as they move through. For example, they checked off tasks as they completed them during the Thanksgiving buffet.

Hoover also gives the students the program of study grid to rate themselves. Hoover’s 48 students review their program of study weekly. “Now they can review and see we discussed safety, but that also included privacy, communication and ethics.”

To Learn More 

To understand Programs of Study and how they relate to your subject area, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Web site.

To see the Program of Study used at Susquehanna CTC, visit the center’s Web site.

Student Effects
According to both teachers, having the students use the program of study to assess themselves has had many positive effects on their classroom.

“It acts like a refresher and a review guide,” said Dunster. “They can look at it and see if they need to go back. They are responsible for keeping track of the knowledge they have. My job is to make sure they really do know it.”

They both agreed that the program of study framework allows students to move at their own pace.

“With the program of study there is the whole picture. It is not like you are going through a text book and you get off track when you have a snow day,” said Hoover.

Dunster sees this with his students, too. “Here they can work until they perfect it. Some of my students fly through baking and get bogged down in safety. They don’t need to move on after one day. They can work on it until they are proficient.”

And Dunster sees a higher level of performance out of his students. “They are harder on themselves than I am. They have higher expectations of themselves and their achievement has improved because of it.”

With Hoover’s students, the proof is in the NOCTI scores. Five years ago, 50 percent of her students got the advanced level on the NOCTI test. In the last two years, 100 percent received advanced level in written and skills.

She also has a higher percentage of students passing the state nurse’s aide training exam. “They understand the skills and have the confidence to take the test. Now they have a good paying part-time job as a high school student.”

Dunster agreed about the confidence. “They get excited when they can do something at the proficient level. It makes them proud.”

Moving Ahead
Dunster is in his second year with the framework and is now working on making the program of study a habit in his classroom. “We are talking about it more this year. I show them we might be doing one thing like making a sandwich, but there are five different competencies we are actually working on.”

Hoover feels her four years of experience with programs of study have helped her become a better teacher. “It makes teaching so much easier. It is a great overview and helps the classroom run smoother. You are getting a high level of achievement.”

And with their experience comes a better idea of how to approach programs of study in a CTE classroom. “I would stress to other teachers that this really shows students their own growth,” explained Dunster. "They own it. It is like a stock in themselves. They can sell themselves down the road.”

PA ACTE Winter 2011 Newsletter Dunster

CTC Grasps Opportunity With Marcellus Shale

Western Area CTC Gets Head Start on Creating Career Pipeline for Natural Gas Industry 

When Western Area CTC director Joseph Iannetti saw workers start drilling the Marcellus Shale outside of his center’s property, he thought two things: “We need to get them to buy our gas and we need to provide them with workers.”

It is Iannetti’s foresight that made his center the first in the state to train adults in gas well tending.

With help from the state to cover the $8,000 tuition per student, WACTC opened their program in 2009 for 30 students. All 30 of those unemployed or underemployed adults were placed by the end of their training, making an average of $75,500 a year.

In two years, the program has expanded to 250 students and now includes a commercial driver’s license component to help make the graduates even better suited to the demands of the Marcellus Shale drillers. The four-to-eight week course runs continuously at the center, and there are six instructors and a secretary dedicated to the program. They have also expanded their external yard for the trucking license and built a classroom out at the yard.

“The money we have made with the program we have been putting right back into it since we know this is going to be around for a long time,” said Iannetti.

For More Information 

Learn more about the Marcellus Shale and the training program at WACTC.

According to Iannnetti, 94 percent of the 250 students have been placed. “It is a big ROI in terms of tax dollars,” he said of the program. “At first, the state is paying our students’ unemployment. After the program, those students are paying a fair amount of taxes on a good income. The government gets their money back in a short amount of time. This is the type of program we should be supporting and should be getting preference.”

And it is the type of program that breeds a lot of success stories. The program at WACTC has been highlighted in National Geographic, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times.

Iannetti told two success stories he recalled. One was about a local bartender who heard the welders come in and talk about their jobs and how much they were making. He decided to enroll in the program and now makes three times what he was earning. Another involved an unemployed accountant who completed the training program and then got hired by one of the companies as an accountant because he understood the business.

Iannetti said he could go on and on about what the program has done for so many in his community. “In this region, there was nothing going on for the blue-collar worker until this came along,” he said.

And although Iannetti’s drive has a lot to do with the program’s success, their location plays a big role, as well. Iannetti explained that the first test well ever drilled for Marcellus Shale was done only three miles from the center, the processing facility to get the gas ready to be shipped elsewhere is also close by, and many of the companies involved with the drilling have their headquarters in the county.

And the industry is only going to get bigger in the state. In 2007, drillers had 27 wells tapping the Marcellus Shale in the state. The number shot up to 161 in 2008 and to 785 in 2009, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“Gas and oil are not new to this area. It would be irresponsible for us to ignore this industry as a potential partner, revenue stream and employer of our students,” he added. “Why would I want someone to drive by my door and go get trained somewhere else to come back and work in my region?”

And the companies involved with Marcellus Shale understand Iannetti’s argument. There are around 20 companies the school deals with routinely to help train employers. He described them as incredibly loyal partners.

One in particular, Range Resources, provides scholarships for students, buys the center’s gas, funds staff professional development, and more that totals about $50,000 annually.

“They provide support like you would not believe,” exclaimed Iannetti. “They take good care of us.”

However, Iannetti explained that the companies also benefit from their partnership. “We are always selling our place and ourselves. It is just how you do business. We are very good to our business partners. We let them use our center for meetings. We have our culinary students make their food. The companies take advantage of it because it is something CTCs are really good at. Hosting training meetings is exactly what should be happening here. They need to walk out smiling so they remember us.”

Now that the training program has gained traction in the region, other CTCs in the area are looking to start programs. Iannetti hosted a tour for area CTC directors to see the wells and the program in action so they could learn how to design a program for their center.

And now Iannetti is developing a partnership with another area company to convert diesel trucks to natural gas for the natural gas companies to use. Eventually, the company’s whole fleet will run on the gas they are drilling. The center is also training secondary students to weld the different pipes used in the natural gas line.

“There is a lot of work to go around with this industry and the CTC is prepared and already doing those things,” Iannetti said.

PA ACTE Winter 2011 Newsletter Shale

Join Sq


Login above for access to member information


Join/Renew · Learn About Membership


Divisions · Regions · State Associations

Recommended Stories

Who We Are

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, guidance counselors and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities.

What We Do

ACTE is committed to enhancing the job performance and satisfaction of its members; to increasing public awareness and appreciation for career and technical programs; and to assuring growth in local, state and federal funding for these programs by communicating and working with legislators and government leaders.


ACTE Calendar

Sunday, August 09, 2015

WA-ACTE Summer Conference

Monday, August 10, 2015

North Dakota Professional Development Conference

View All Events