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Pennsylvania ACTE Summer 2014 Newsletter



LPN Program Brings Praise, Award for Susquehanna

PA Davis

The Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC) was recently recognized with an award and a monetary donation by the Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools (PARSS).
The award is for SCCTC’s implementation of a Licensed Practical Nursing Program in 2013. This program is a 1765 hour/12 month program. Students are awarded 12 college credits for classes completed through Luzerne County Community College via online learning.

“The SCCTC is working to be the leader in technical and adult education. We are extremely proud of achieving this educational milestone in our rural community and we look forward to expanding nursing education in Susquehanna County,” says Alice Davis, SCCTC Administrative Director and School Counselor.

“Since this is a new program, we are excited about prospects for the future,” says Eric Emmerich, an Elk Lake school board member. “An award like this helps validate the program.”

Joseph Bard, Executive Director of PARSS, says, “This is a program that is keeping everything local. They are encouraging job opportunities and development in a rural area.”

According to Davis, rural education can be difficult due to the distance and availability of services. The SCCTC has bridged the gap of distance by bringing a nursing program to the center of Susquehanna County. This allows students to be educated where they live. It has also created a seamless transition for high school students desiring to continue their education in the health care field.

And the center brings academics to their rural community in innovative ways. Students learn hands on skills at several local clinical sites. Academics are taught by mastered instructors and also includes four hybrid/online classes.

She also explained how education at SCCTC takes into account the various learning styles of the wide range of age groups. SCCTC offers hands on learning, computerized learning and basic training for those not familiar with the use of a computer. They also offer remediation to those that may not have had a solid academic base. Prep courses are also offered to guarantee success. “We believe that if we are to differentiate our program from the other LPN programs, we must prepare our students prior to beginning their nursing education,” says Davis

A great benefit of bringing this program to Susquehanna is that students will find work in the area. According to the Center for Workforce Analysis of 2011, Susquehanna County has the largest retiring population of licensed practical nurses and also has one of the highest populations of persons 65 years and older in the state. “There is a tremendous need for health services jobs in our area,” says Emmerich. “This is one of the top programs needed in our community.”

“The support we have received from the Board of Education and guidance and knowledge from Nursing Director, Sherrie Bazin, has been outstanding. With these individuals, the SCCTC’s nursing program will continue to move forward to offer quality education locally,” says Davis

Literacy and Math Strategies for the CTC Classroom 


The challenge for Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center (RMCTC) is to help students who struggle in school with basic skills learn and understand the value of literacy and math skills. What Tracy Stettler, literacy integration instructor, and Lisa Hughes, math integration instructor, have done at RMCTC is develop strategies that work across program areas that enhance academic as well as content-area learning.

The Literacy Component

Stettler has run the reading program at RMCTC for four years. At the beginning of every school year she goes to each program area and explains the reading program to students and how they can be involved. "Some program areas require their students to be involved in the reading program, but I want to make sure the other students know this is available to them," she explains.

The main piece of the reading program is the articles students turn in for prizes. Students turn in reading reports for books or magazine articles they read with the approval of the CTE instructor. The reports must include a reflection telling what the book or article means to the student, as well as a list of three vocabulary words they were unsure of in the reading. Winners receive movie tickets or a chance to eat at the center's restaurant.

"I don't get out the red pen with these reports," said Stettler. "If you can tell me what the book is about and I can understand the writing, I take it. I do not want to discourage reading because someone struggles with paragraph construction.

Another activity Stettler organizes is a Show Me the Book Day. This is done once a quarter at the center. Stettler gives out small prizes to students carrying around books that can show them to her and explain what they are reading. She also puts together a quote of the week and a word of the day for instructors to use as prompts in their opening activities.

Stettler has also helped students get the most out of their textbooks with an organizer called THIEVES (Title, Heading, Introduction, Every First Sentence, Visuals and Vocabulary, End of Chapter Questions, Summary.  This structure helps students think about what they are reading in the textbooks and help them glean the important information.

Stettler also works with the different program areas to create week-long theory instructional packets. The packets include writing tips, the rubric for how their assignments in the packet will be evaluated, a word of the day assignment, and a paragraph of the day assignment based on the curriculum goals for the program that week. "Each instructor does these packets in their own way so it works for them" says Stettler. "The important thing is that the assignments are tied to that lesson for the day and that it is part of their theory lesson."

For example, Alice Bowers, health nursing careers teacher at RMCTC uses a lot of visual cues such as color coding to break down the literacy assignments for her students. She has also used vocabulary assignments for students to create posters for the classroom.

The Math Component

For Hughes, the math integration into the program areas is a little different because some of the math is specific to the program. "For me, CTCs do the best job of working with a lot of different math practices because that is how the different industries work," she explained.

Hughes also adds a math problem of the day to the program packets Stettler developed. The problem is specific to the program and the content being taught that week. "It is a lot of work," says Hughes, "but once you have them done for the year, you can use them the following year. I also worked with a few instructors at a time, working my way through the staff."

Another strategy she uses is called "Let's Read Math." For many people going into a trade, reading recipes, instructions, and manual is so important, this really helps incorporate math literacy into the program. Hughes will use articles, recipes, and other materials as prompts to have instructors or students ask math related prompts. For example, Bowers uses these prompts in her health classes. An article about protein intake had Bowers asking questions about calculating how much protein her student's need.

Bowers and Hughes also use another activity in her class to help show all the different areas math is used in the health field. A description of a patient appointment, including time of visit, copays, medicine they take, diagnosis, data collected during visit are cut up and given to each student. The students then have to get together and piece the appointment together to figure out a series of questions like what does the patient owe, write the prescription for the patient, chart their growth, etc.

Stettler, Hughes, and Bowers agree that while these strategies do add some work to the preparation of lessons for teachers, the rewards are well worth the effort they take. "I can see the growth in my students," said Bowers. "I will never go back."


The three instructors from RMCTC were more than willing to share all the free resources they have found useful, including:

www.mathisfun.com - Website with ideas based on making math useful and fun.

www.careersolutionspublishing.com - Free weekly and monthly updates on career-related topics.

www.teachervision.com - Free Educator's Calendar to help with planning.


PA Literacy

Bringing Career Day to the Career and Tech Center 


PA Summer Newsletter Image


When Stephanie Everett, assessment coordinator at Chester County Technical College High School, went to a career day at one of the sending schools for her center, she came up with an idea.

“When I got there, I saw all of these empty tables where people who canceled and did not show up,” Everett explained. “And the people who were there, we had those programs at our school. It is so hard for counselors to set up these career days. I asked them, ‘why don’t you let us do this at our school?” And they practically cried.”

Why Career Day at the CTC

Hosting a career day at a career and tech center has a lot of the same purposes as a career day in a sending school. According to Jessica Snyder, a counselor at Chester County Technical College High School. “It really is a way to educate and to reach out to create a solid foundation for career readiness. It exposes students to real-world careers.” Snyder went on to explain three key reasons why career day at a CTC works.

Education. This does not just apply to the students attending, but also the staff and parents who come with those students. “It really helps them understand what CTE is,” says Snyder. It breaks the stigma about a CTC. They see that students can and do go on to post-secondary and are successful.”

Increase non-traditional enrollment. Snyder explained the need to erase the still pervasive gender bias in many trades. “The students are assigned to at least one non-traditional career. This means boys go to cosmetology and girls go to auto.”

Meeting standards. Counselor Angela King talked about the state’s career education and work standards and the Chapter 339 Comprehensive Guidance Plan that school districts must comply with. Many of these standards can be met through a career day at the center so that the schools can stay in compliance.

What the Career Day Would Look Like

Everett went on to explain how her CTC hosted nearly 1,400 students this past year for career days. For the fourth and fifth grades, students attend four, 20-minute sessions. The CTC selects the sessions for them, making sure students are exposed to four different career clusters. They also make sure one session is a non-traditional career to help eliminate the gender bias. The focus at this grade-level is hands-on demonstrations that are interesting and educational.

“We are really exposing them,” says Everett. “They are like sponges just taking it all in and loving it. They are making fake blood in health or pushing apple juice through catheters. I have also seen them painting themselves like Batman in cosmetology.”

King explained that with the eighth graders, the students pick two of their 20-minute sessions and the CTC picks the other two. Just as with the fifth grade, the CTC makes sure students get to as many career clusters as possible and attend at least one non-traditional career. “The emphasis at this grade level in on post-secondary options and high school scheduling,” explains King. This way if an eighth grade student would want to enter the carpentry program in tenth grade, they would know what math and other preparatory courses they would need to take in ninth grade to be accepted.

Everett adds, “We let the eighth graders pick two of the sessions they attend because they will buy-in more. It is why students come to CTE anyway. They want to do something they pick. But we also send them to other areas because kids don’t really know what is out there.”

Both grade levels receive a folder from the school that contains a pre-event activity that helps them get thinking about careers and what they might want to do to prepare. There is also a poster/worksheet they fill out during the sessions that asks questions like how much money does someone make in the field and how do you prepare to be in your industry. The poster also lists resources for follow-up activities, including a smartphone qr code to link students to photos from the event.

How to Get This Going

What King, Everett, and Snyder managed to accomplish took a lot of coordination. They all stressed the importance of meeting and working with district counselors, CTC counselors, community members, and local colleges. This not only gets buy-in, but also financial support and man power to pull off the events.

Everett also discussed looking at the Career Education and Work Standards to figure out what you want the career day to accomplish so that you could build the event appropriately.

Keeping the CTC staff informed and prepared is also a necessity. Developing the sessions for the younger students and involving their current students in the instruction does take time to prepare.

The Benefits

This model has worked so well that Chester County Technical College High School also uses it for entering high school students to explore career options at the school. They also use it for a “Swapportunity” Day with their current students, so that they can also develop a respect for and interest in other trades.

“It is not just a benefit to the sending school students who come for the experience,” says Everett. “Current students at the CTC take on the role of instructor with the younger students and develop a deeper understanding of their trade as well.” Snyder adds, “They are really empowered doing this. They know it a little better after teaching it.”

Everett adds, “We are going to get a better pool of candidates because of these events. It isn’t just going to be the kid who is told by staff that they can’t sit still and are a hands-on learners and belong in tech. This is helping get the right students in the right program.” 


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