A tale of two CTEs

5 min read

Voice of the Educator

A recent high-school graduate and a credit-recovery teacher from Sweet Home High School in Oregon share their insights on career and technical education.

Shela’s story

From the second you register for high-school classes as an incoming freshman, everything you do will be focused on graduation. You’ll be so caught up in taking the right classes, joining the right extracurricular activities and volunteering at the right places that it can be easy to forget the point: getting ready for life after graduation.

How do you plan for that? I’m no expert, having just graduated a month ago. But I do have an idea of my next steps, so hopefully you can learn from my story.

I’ve always wanted to do something in the medical field, but there are so many opportunities to choose from that it can be a little overwhelming.

When I found out that my school offered online career and technical education courses, I was intrigued. I had never heard of an online career course, but my teachers encouraged me to sign up.

Enrolling in a CTE nursing course was a life-changing decision. I probably took more notes in that class than in all my other classes combined — two notebooks worth on every lesson.

My academic courses hadn’t taught me job skills like this. For one project, I studied the nursing code of ethics to determine how to respond to real-world situations. It was so fun to pretend to be a nurse working in pediatrics, forensics or even as a flight nurse on an airplane.

Imagining myself in those situations helped me determine what I would enjoy doing. While reviewing the midwifery lesson, I had a “light bulb moment.” People have always told me I have a nurturing, compassionate personality, and I love caring for infants. I had found my calling in life.

This spring, I’ll be attending Chemeketa Community College to begin my postsecondary education. Before long, I plan to transfer to a college or university that offers an in-depth nursing program. As a student at Chemeketa, I will have the opportunity to work with doctors and nurses at Oregon Health & Science University, one of the best hospitals in the state. I could not have hoped for a more ideal situation.

So that’s my advice to my fellow students: If your school offers CTE courses, sign up for them. Try as many as you can until you find one that makes you excited to do the homework — that’s when you know it’s a good fit.

Most importantly, don’t wait to start exploring your passions! The next four years will go by faster than you think.

Eric’s story

When it comes to purchasing or expanding curriculum software, a large portion of any administrator’s decision-making process is to consider costs vs. benefits, much like businesses consider return on investment (ROI). However, as educators, our “investment” is in our students and their future, is it not?

Sweet Home High School has 766 students, and we use an online platform for the students in need of credit recovery or expanded support to take additional electives or core classes. Some students use a blended learning approach, while others are learning independently online.

The use of such a platform allows us to offer more courses and options to our students than our resources allow. The benefits to our students overshadow the costs to the district here. The ROI has been amazing.

All of our students are required to have a career learning experience before they graduate. We want them to have hands-on experience with a potential career, as it will really guide their college planning and learning. Our teachers help their students to craft learning and career exploration around said goals.

One such student deemed dedicated enough was Shela Marsh. As you’ve already learned, she expressed interest in nursing and took the corresponding CTE courses that would help prepare her for pursuing a nursing degree. She immediately had a new-found thirst and excitement for learning.

Shela’s story is exactly what we had hoped for when purchasing a CTE curriculum. We knew the CTE courses would help students really understand what is involved in a career that they have interest in. The courses also give them a foundation for getting more training and the necessary degrees and certifications.

Long story short: Students have better direction when they enter college if they experience CTE materials.

Make the investment in your students, helping them passionately invest in their future. I know first-hand that the benefits to the students outweigh the costs to your districts.

Shela Marsh is a recent high-school graduate and Eric Stutzer is a credit-recovery teacher from Sweet Home High School in Oregon. His school uses the Odysseyware platform for career and technical education.