February 17, 2024 at 1:36 p.m.

Career-Technical Education Prepares For Life After High School



LINCOLNTON, N.C. - In the fast-paced information-driven world we live in today parents and the general public rightly wonder what kids are learning in school. More importantly, they wonder whether all the information students are responsible for learning is preparing them for postsecondary success.

The answer is a resounding yes! The accumulated curriculum, from kindergarten to 12th grade, is preparing students for the workforce. From the knowledge base to technical and durability (employability) skills, students are learning the skills to make them ready for postsecondary success. Across the nation, but particularly in Lincoln County Schools, a key component of preparing for life after high school is Career-Technical Education.

In 1917, when Congress passed the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act, which provided the first federal investment in secondary education in the areas of agriculture, home economics and trade and industrial education, Career-Technical has continued to grow in schools across the nation. After World War I, it became more important than ever to provide adult education opportunities for the brave soldiers returning from war but also to provide retraining and re-skilling opportunities for a changing economy. Later, other programs would be added to Vocational Education programs, including marketing and nursing.

From those early programs, and additional federal legislation, CTE continued to expand and diversify to meet the needs of the developing workforce. However, the mission of CTE never changed, which was to offer evolving and adaptable technical programs for students, in addition to the knowledge students were learning in school. An integral part of the growth of CTE has been strong business and industry partners as well as community colleges. Lincoln County Schools has strong partnerships with the Lincoln Economic Development Association (LEDA) and Gaston College. LEDA and Gaston College are essential to carrying out our vision for our students. To celebrate CTE Month and prepare our students for the upcoming registration for 2024-2025, all sophomores are visiting Gaston College to learn about program opportunities and LEDA is purchasing lunches for students on the field trip. LEDA is also instrumental in providing field trip opportunities for students to visit various industries in Lincoln County. Since Manufacturing continues to be a major local employer, it is important for our students to see and experience local manufacturing.

For the upcoming school year, Lincoln County Schools will offer 38 CTE “career pathways” for students. From the traditional Agricultural, Advanced Manufacturing and Automotive pathways to the newer Cybersecurity, Computer Engineering, Mental Health and EMT pathways, Lincoln County Schools is evolving and diversifying our program to not only meet the needs of a local economy aligned with industry needs but also a global economy. Our graduates have gone on to college to study computer science and cybersecurity. We have graduates in the local Apprenticeship programs learning about Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics. We have graduates that are working for Lincoln County EMS and local fire departments. We have graduates who have gone on to work as CNAs but more that have gone on to earn their Registered Nurse (RN) license. We have graduates who have gone on to study engineering. We even have middle school students who are learning basic construction and plumbing skills!

We know that CTE is working for Lincoln County Schools and proud that we play a part in preparing students for their postsecondary success.

I am proud of the work of Career-Technical educators in Lincoln County Schools and their efforts to excite students about potential careers. I’m also excited that all Lincoln County Schools have adopted a vision to introduce students to career-focused lessons and activities as early as kindergarten. The Lincoln County community would be excited to know that in our elementary schools and middle schools, students participate in career interviews, career-focused wax museums, career “dress-up days,” resume writing activities, Career Fairs and Career Days. Students take Career Interest inventories to help them narrow down their potential career opportunities. Our teachers invite guest speakers in to discuss various careers. 

Great things are happening for students in Lincoln County Schools! While we remain committed to teaching the Standard Course of Study, we are also committed to doing everything we can to introduce students to career planning, career exposure, career preparation, skill development and hands-on learning. In the 21st century, CTE is a dynamic part of public education and we believe it is an integral component of a child’s educational experience. We believe in EVERY student's postsecondary success and their contributions to a successful economy.

--- Dr. Cale Sain is the Chief of Postsecondary Readiness & CTE for Lincoln County Schools.

Sources: Acteonline.org



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