Increasing Participation, Engagement, and Excitement for CTE

As we start CTE Month, I begin to reflect on what we are doing to increase CTE participation, engagement, and excitement.  I am also looking at how to do even more next year.  I believe that CTE is the best way to help guide our students into their futures.  It is our jobs as CTE leaders to make sure that we are finding ways to increase student participation, engagement, and excitement in our CTE programs.

In order to accomplish this goal, we must begin getting students excited about CTE in elementary and continue building that excitement throughout their high school years.  At the elementary level, we send our high school CTE Student Ambassadors to present at the Elementary School Career Days.  At those events, our CTE Student Ambassadors take a hands-on activity with them so that the elementary students have an opportunity to see and get a feel for what it is like to take CTE classes in high school.  In addition, our district sets up and hosts a Biz Town event at our Career Center for our sixth grade students to attend.  Before leaving the Career Center, they receive a tour so that they can see our high school students in action in their CTE classes.  Next year, we hope to add a Career Van where we will take hands-on CTE activities to our elementary campuses to get even more students excited about CTE.

We believe that we begin to spark the students’ interest in CTE at the elementary level and fuel the fire of excitement at the Middle School level.  Since our Middle School students are selecting their endorsements and completing their four year plans, we work very closely with the counseling teams at the campuses.  Our CTE team presents information and assists with endorsement selection and with four year plan completion.  We bring our students to our Career Center again prior to doing their Endorsement selection where they have CTE Student Ambassadors serve as their tour guides.  The CTE Student Ambassadors share what they do in their CTE classes, the different pathways that we offer, certifications they can earn, why they chose to participate in CTE, and how they believe CTE will help them in their future.  We also host our annual Find Your Future Expo and invite all of our Middle and High School students and their parents to attend.  At the event, we have our CTE students and teachers showcase our CTE programs, local industry people come and talk to the students about opportunities within their industry and the skills/education needed, post-secondary education representatives also attend to let the students know about the opportunities available, and we have Texas Workforce on hand as well.  This event is a huge success each year!

Once our students make it to the high school level, we want to make sure they remain excited about CTE and stay on track to be CTE Coherent Sequence Takers.  To help us reach this goal, we meet individually with every ninth and tenth grade student participating in a principles level CTE class to complete their CTE Personal Career Plan.  During those individual meetings, we review with them how they like their principles level class and discuss what class they will take next.  We make sure that they are on track to meet their goals for their CTE courses.  After their ninth grade year, we meet with our CTE students to review their CTE Personal Career Plan and make any changes necessary.  Many of our students take their CTE Personal Career Plan with them when they meet with their counselor for course selection.  Throughout the year, we provide CTE Facts on the morning announcements and bring in career speakers for our students.  We also provide the students opportunities to have a lunch and learn where they visit with a Career Panel during their lunches to learn more about various career opportunities. 

Because we believe strongly in making sure that our students are career ready, we also hold resume writing and interview skills workshops.  Another fun activity that helps keep our high school students talking about CTE is our CTE Career Wear Fashion Show.  Our CTE students dress in the appropriate career wear for their CTE pathway and put on a fashion show during lunch.  Not only is the event fun, but it helps our students learn more about dressing appropriately for their career!  This year, we have added the Career Finder Job Fair.  We will invite our seniors to participate, and several local businesses have stated that they will hire some of our students on the spot.

We must constantly be looking for ways to grow CTE student participation, engagement, and excitement because CTE will prepare our students for their future and ours!