26 years of Career and Technical Education.

February 4, 2015

cte_2By Kate Krieger. Senior Correspondent.

VICTORY TWP – February is known for celebrating a lot of things, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, President’s Day and Black History Month, but many don’t realize it is the month set aside for recognizing Career and Technical Education or CTE as it is more commonly known.

West Shore Community College has been offering a partnership with West Shore Educational Service District (formerly Mason-Lake Intermediate School District and Oceana County Intermediate School District) for 26 years. The program was initially called Technical Preparation (Tech Prep) and has evolved into CTE. It offeres 12 different career-based and technology courses for high school juniors and seniors and it gears students toward the workforce through internships, hands-on experience and course work.

“This year marks 26 years for the partnership with West Shore and CTE,” work-based learning coordinator, Crystal Young said. “It’s nice to have the programs mainly on the West Shore campus because it gives students great exposure to college life and it isn’t big and scary.”

High school students attend the course of their choice depending on whether it is offered in the morning or the afternoon. Some students, depending on their high school credits can take both morning and afternoon sessions or they can even take a course and then be dual enrolled at the college.

cte_1The CTE staff works with area high school counselors to find programs that fit student needs. Eighth graders come out to visit the campus to get an overview of all the CTE courses and then they return in 10th grade when they choose four courses that they would like to learn more about.

“The 10th graders pick their top four choices to get an idea of what they want to start planning for,” Young said. “We average about 400 students a year. It’s really great that they can attend the courses and then go off to get a job or become career ready.”

The courses that students can enroll in are agriscience, allied health technology offered in Mason County and Oceana County, automotive technology, construction trades, criminal justice, culinary arts, digital media, educator academy, graphic communications, marketing, mechatronics and welding.

All the instructors are very dedicated to helping students succeed in finding their own passions for the fields they are at CTE teaching.

“Every time I come to work, I get to share my knowledge and what we do,” welding instructor Dan Nelson said. “CTE is really less of an education program and more like a family setting. We work together and the kids want this program and what is really amazing is they come out here and want to learn.”

A common idea shared by all the instructors is that they all hope that they can teach their students a basic understanding about the careers their courses feature and to see the students leave the program with the knowledge and the experience to land a job that they are not only ready for, but that they are passionate about.

CTE is a free program for students and it currently serves students from Mason, Oceana and Manistee counties. They work closely with area colleges and universities to make sure the course work is not only workforce-ready, but also college appropriate and prepares them for the college life, if they choose that direction instead of going right to work after graduation. They offer different internships with many different industry and businesses in the area, so students can actually experience what it would be like to work in the career that they are studying and to make sure it is the direction they want to take before finding out too late and having to start all over in preparing for a new career path.

Mechatronics instructor Matt Scott said the programs hold two advisory board meetings each year to work with local businesses to help guide them in the direction that that particular industry might be moving towards.

“We are so supported locally,” he said. “Businesses help guide us to help mold what the program looks like.”

Continuing the tradition of creating successful and career-minded students, CTE maintains high-grade facilities and equipment to prepare all of their students and their instructors continue to educate themselves on how the different fields continue to change as the world around them changes as well.

For more information, visit http://www.wsesd.org/student-programs/career-and-technical-education.

For the rest of the year, Mason County Press, Oceana County Press and Manistee County Press will highlight a CTE student from each of the courses as part of the Press’ growing Education series.


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