Supporting our students, particularly ones in underserved populations can be done in many big and small ways. I am going to share three ways that you can make a significant impact on leading students towards CTE success.
It is amazing how far a simple smile or encouraging note or message can go to a student. Whether you are in the classroom or play a support role in the education of CTE students, making sure they feel welcome and safe is a huge help in making them successful. Many times students don’t have support from family members, so even a simple “Glad you are here today” can make an impact on a student’s day. Being around like-minded people is a huge benefit of CTE programs, but helping our students feel welcome and wanted is so important. Many schools, including mine, have put Diversity and Inclusion teams in place. We have seen many benefits to including this important part of education in our programs. We also work to highlight non-traditional students in our programs.
Often students have barriers that we as CTE professionals may never consider. It is so important to have a collection of resources that are available to students that are accessible and easy to find. One barrier my school recently attempted to remove for our students was transportation. We worked with our local transit systems and arranged for our students to be able to ride public transit if they showed their school ID. This program made getting to school and work one less thing they had to worry about, which helps set them up for success! I have also seen great needs in schools for food pantries and clothing closets to provide much-needed items for our students. At my school, our counselors have access to gift cards for gas and groceries and other supplies our students might need and they are encouraged to speak up if there is something they need. This goes back to the first tactic- your students have to feel safe and comfortable to reach out when they need help, so do your part to make them feel safe.
Does your community know what you do and offer? Being a part of the community and letting people know of the services your school offers is another way to let people know that your school or program is something that they can learn more about. Having a presence at the local charities and civic organizations helps members of the community, especially underserved populations, know about you! Also, having staff that can effectively communicate to the communities you serve is a huge help in removing barriers. If a person is not available, making sure your documents are translated is a great first step!
Anyone who knows CTE knows that it is a community that works so hard every day so students will succeed. Hopefully, these few ideas will re-energizing you to do your part.