During February, a national public awareness campaign to recognize Career and Technical Education (CTE) takes place to promote the value of the program and its achievements.

CTE is education that directly prepares students for high-wage, high-demand careers. McDowell County Schools CTE programs cover many different fields including agriculture, architecture and construction, arts, audio/video and communication, business and finance, health science, hospitality and tourism, human services, information technology, public safety, manufacturing, marketing, science technology and engineering and transportation.

Students can earn credentials in Microsoft Office, EverFi, ServSafe, National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), OSHA, CPR, Lead Teacher Equivalency, Office of State Fire Marshal, EMS and baton certification, among others. They are also eligible to join such clubs as Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Future Farmers of America (FFA), Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), HOSA-Future Health Professionals and Skills USA.

At McDowell High School, CTE is growing with plans to add new classes in the upcoming school year. CTE Director Mary Finley said the program is also developing internship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities.

“We always try to promote CTE through social media, but this month I want to recognize the teachers to say ‘thank you’ for what they do and make the public aware of what is offered. We have a strong articulation program and a strong partnership with McDowell Tech with our students. They can take Career and College Promise courses for free,” said Finley.

Last year, CTE students earned 1,028 credentials, and 216 students were concentrators in the field they chose. Forty-eight of those students earned two or more concentrations. A CTE concentrator is a secondary student who earns four or more credits in a single cluster, one of which is a second-level course. A cluster is the total amount of classes taken in each field.

“We are required to do a follow-up survey with our CTE concentrators every year, and 100 percent of students reported that CTE was one of the reasons they stayed in school,” said Finley.

In the 2018-2019 school year, new courses are being added to stay current with business and industry standards.

“We will add in an emergency management course to public safety, agricultural mechanics and vet assisting in agriculture,” said Finley.

And, Teaching as a Profession will be a new a cluster area after Senate Bill 598 was enacted to establish the Future Teachers of North Carolina. Students will earn college credits in Foundations of Education and Children Exceptionalities. Student requirements to enroll in the teaching courses include being a junior or senior, having a 3.0 GPA or higher, submit and essay and having three teacher references.

“North Carolina is realizing there is a teacher shortage coming,” said Finley.

CTE programs are also offered at East and West middle schools including digital coding, intro to trade & industry, family & consumer science, engineering, health science and business.

“There is good participation in the middle schools. They can earn certifications such as babysitting credentials,” said Finley. “CTE programs offer high school students a chance to have a college transcript started and certifications all free of charge. They will have a great jump start on their future, and all the teachers are wonderful. They put the time into making their program successful.”

For more information on CTE programs, visit mhs.mcdowell.k12.nc.us.

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