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Pennsylvania ACTE Summer 2016 Newsletter


Philadelphia Teacher Is First CTE Instructor in Fellows Program


 PA Fellows article


Yaniv Aronson, CTE instructor at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, is the first CTE teacher ever to be accepted into the Stanford University Hollyhock Fellows Program.

“My participation is noteworthy because the fellowship is offered to science, math, history, or English teachers from across the country and is limited to only the top 100 applicants from low income schools,” says Aronson.

Nearly half of all teachers leave the classroom within five years, according to the program’s site. In schools that serve low-income students, like Northeast, the turnover is even higher—leaving the most vulnerable students with the least experienced teachers. The Hollyhock Fellowship Program addresses these complicated educational realities by encouraging and supporting highly motivated, early-career high school teachers to persist and thrive in the classroom by providing them with rich learning opportunities with colleagues nationwide.

Aronson, who teaches cinematography, film and video production, was invited to join the team from Northeast by fellow teachers. “I have done different lessons with the math and social studies teachers on the team,” he says. I have gotten to know a set of young, energetic teachers here. I think I am always pushing for integration of academics, even though I am a CTE instructor.”

The Northeast team underwent individual and team interviews as part of their application process as well as producing a video about their school and their work.

Aronson is currently prepping with his team for the two weeks in residence they will spend at Stanford. This July, the Northeast team will focus on teaching one’s core content area and examining issues of equity in schools.  He has writing prompts from his class, lesson plan samples, video of his teaching, and headshots of his students. 

“We found out in April we were accepted and we have quite a bit of homework. But it makes sense since we have a lot to do there in such a short amount of time,” he says. 

The two-year professional development program will provide Aronson and the Northeast team with four strands of professional development:

  • Developing pedagogical expertise in teaching a core content area;
  • Examining issues of equity as a teacher leader in the classroom;
  • Building community within and across participating schools; and
  • Interacting with Stanford scholars regarding the latest educational and content-specific research.

Aronson will participate in the English teacher sections during core-content sessions, focusing on expanding his content knowledge and pedagogical approach to teaching to benefit the students he teaches. 

The Northeast team will work with each other as well as another school team in their cross-content sessions. They will examine issues of equity in schools and develop a collaboration skill set to build community among the fellows and back at individual school sites.

“As the only CTE teacher, I will of course bring a different point of view,” says Aronson I am also looking forward to the experience and broadening my views as a teacher, as well as helping broaden others’ views.” 

He adds, “I am surrounded by Philly teachers, but we do not live in a bubble. The exciting part is bringing together teachers from across the country. I am excited to meet teachers and hear about other programs and districts.”

Pittsburgh Adds Two New CTE Programs
Student Interest and Community Support Bolster City’s Offerings


ET article


Two new career and technical education (CTE) programs are set to open this fall in Pittsburgh area schools.

The Entertainment Technology (ET) signature program will be the first CTE offering at University Prep. It is also the first program of its kind in the district.

The Emergency Response Technology (ERT) Program will be at Westinghouse, partnered up with the existing health careers programs there. 

The ERT program was initiated through conversations with city officials and educators. “The Pittsburgh Mayor’s office would like to see more diversity among fire, police, and EMT workers, and we could provide the pipeline through our schools,” said Angela Mike, executive director of Pittsburgh’s career and technical education program.

An existing unused media lab and studio at University Prep meant the district could have the ET program “up and running in no time,” says Mike.

Student surveys also revealed a growing interest in both topics. “We had the equipment, the student interest, and the funding so we knew we could get the programs together.

Both programs will take three years to complete and will be open to 10 – 12 grade students. Two sections of 25 students will spend three periods — a little more than two hours — per day in the program. 

Like their counterparts in other CTE programs in the district, ET and ERT students can work toward certifications in certain subjects, such as Adobe or Final Cut.  ERT students can complete several certifications required for public safety employees. 

Students in the ERT program will also be able to earn college credits through a concurrent enrollment program. Mike is working with Point Place University to get ET students credits.

“I think it has a lot of potential, and I’m hoping to provide another pathway and option for students in the district to be able to take advantage of,” Mike says. “They’re getting a jump-start on their career.”

Mike knows none of this would be possible without the support they have received.  For example, Mike said that the city will be giving hiring priority to students who have successfully completed the ERT program. The city is also donating a fire truck to the program. Steel Town Entertainment is assisting the ET program with equipment and instruction. 

“The city has been an excellent partner supporting this program and CTE overall,” says Mike.

The biggest support for the ERT program came in the form of an Innovation Fund Grant from the American Federation of Teachers.  The money was awarded to union, school, and municipal leaders to expand CTE opportunities, pledging to build promising pathways for students that lead to opportunities for further education and good middle-class jobs in their communities.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto in a statement says, “The City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Public Schools, and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers can work together to create a pipeline to meaningful careers for the youth of our city. The District’s new Emergency Response Technology CTE program also creates a prime opportunity for our Public Safety personnel to connect and engage with the youth in our communities."

“CTE helps the district,” says Mike. “The more options there are the better it is for students. When students find their passions, they do better academically. It is a win-win for students and the district when we can fast track students on a career pathway.”

Currently, the two schools are getting ready for the fall opening for both programs. Mike says there is some construction going on in both labs, especially at Westinghouse’s auto tech lab to get the fire truck to fit inside. Mike has also spoken with five or six other ERT programs in the area. The ET program is unique and there are not many available in the state. But she has been in touch with those involved in a similar program in Philadelphia. 

CTEs and the Community: Giving Back with a Purpose


AD Community article


At Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center, executive director Alice Davis makes sure the community knows not only how they can help the school, but how the school can help them.

For example, students in the carpentry department make wooden toys for local organizations during Christmas. Carpentry instructor, Bruce Castelli says that in the spring they build dog houses for local shelters. His students also constructed office chairs for local government offices and benches at the county courthouse. 

According to Heather Charles, welding instructor, every program plays a role. Her welding students complete signage for area companies as well as donations for charities. “It is an open door with the community,” she says. 

The cosmetology department offers discounted services and special events for birthdays, girl scouts, and senior citizens, says cosmetology instructor Kim Cosklo.

And in return for all of this great work, the community is behind the school. Davis has many advisory groups with local businesses set up, “to tell us what their needs really are.” Davis says that the businesses have been wonderful about rating the school’s programs, providing feedback, and establishing awards for their students. “They see that good things are going on here. They believe it because they have that connection.”

Davis also says that the school’s services provide the community with some context by which to make decisions that affect the school. “They can see what they are getting in return if we go to them with a building project that requires tax dollars.”

“It really lets the community see that the school can stand up for itself,” Charles adds. “The community sees what we can do for them.”

But the real benefactors of Susquehanna giving back to the community are the students. 

Charles described a project involving her students installing handicap railings. “They see the benefit for the community. But they also see how much farther this knowledge and real world experience will get them. The students take great pride when they see their work out in the community,” says Charles.

“The students recognize the dignity of their work,” Davis adds. “Everybody at the school appreciates each other’s work.”

Castelli and Cosklo both mentioned having local businesses coming to them to fill positions with recent graduates. “Our students get a reputation because they can do the real thing,” Castelli says. 

And it all stems from everyone at the school working together. As Castelli says, “It trickles down from the top. Our boss helps us and volunteers a lot of her time.”  Charles mentioned that if another department needs something for a group they are working with, “we help each other to keep the relationships going.  We are one whole school not individual programs.”

“I like how we work together as a family,” says Castelli. “We stand up for each other.

“Communication is the most important tool we have,” says Davis. “The attitude and the chemistry is right.”

But Cosklo also says, “Schools shouldn’t be afraid of taking the first step. Invite the community. Offer your services. Get the word out and get that word of mouth going about your program.”

Charles adds, “You definitely need to put yourself out there. Tell them what you can do for them and that your students need them. Make yourself available. Make your relationship with the community a tight bond.”


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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.



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