How Career & Technical Education Changed My Life
In honor of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, I would like to reflect on the influence CTE has had on my life – even though I didn’t realize it until a decade later.
As a teenager, I wasn’t a big fan of school. Classes, homework, and way too much science! I couldn’t stand it.
However, every time I left my rural campus to assist nurses at the local hospital, I felt the thrill of escape and the fun of doing something new. So, for all the wrong reasons, I enrolled in my high school’s nursing program and was quickly on my way to plenty of time not in school. The perfect plan!
It didn’t take long for me to learn my first CTE lesson: there is much more to a nursing program than wearing scrubs and getting out of class. I’d signed up for a daily, three-hour block of anatomy and physiology, as well as an introduction to nursing skills. Yep, my brilliant plan to escape school somehow locked me into three hours of science a day.
This tale could have ended badly. Fortunately, I had an amazing teacher who took my least favorite subject and eventually turned it into something that I learned to love. Mrs. Hodges was a registered nurse who chose to teach nursing skills to high school students. She had no idea how her decision would save hundreds of lives and impact thousands more.
Mrs. Hodges introduced me to the world of Career and Technical Education. No, I’m not a nurse today. Passing out several times at the sight of blood made that career choice easy. Instead, I became a CTE educator, where I utilized the pedagogy and curriculum design I first saw from Mrs. Hodges. Now, I carry her vision forward so all students can succeed with the help of CTE.
Here’s how it works:
Unfortunately, not every student gets to understand careers prior to graduating high school. My CTE experience eased me into a work environment that helped me make strong choices once I reached college. Without this opportunity, students often earn degrees in areas that don’t fulfill their true passions or highlight their best skills. In FLVS CTE, we work to integrate real-world career experiences into our curriculum.
Students who studied under Mrs. Hodges knew that she cared about us and wanted us to do our best. No one wanted to disappoint her, and this mutual respect opened up doors to learning. I remember studying hard and wanting to make As in this class – a science class! FLVS CTE teachers have a passion for their content area and work hard at building meaningful relationships with their students to help them achieve their college and career goals.
“When will I ever use this in real life?” This is a frequent question that comes up in nearly every general education course, but not in CTE. In class with Mrs. Hodges, every student understood exactly how this information could be used in the real world. We knew that to succeed at this job, we had to master the content. FLVS CTE makes learning come to life by providing real-world relevancy in on-the-job content.
Engagement & Rigor
Why do good students fail school? Far too often, there is a lack of engagement. I went from a student who dreaded science and hated school, to someone who voluntarily studied so that I could excel. Even though the content was rigorous, the structure of CTE made learning fun and engaging. FLVS CTE strives for creating both engaging and rigorous content.
Many of the students who were in my class went on to work in health care. Those of us who did not learned valuable communication, coping, and creative thinking skills that would assist us in a variety of other careers. From doctors to lawyers, from electricians to mechanics, all jobs fall into CTE Career Clusters.
Today’s CTE is designed to prepare all students for the high skills, high wage, in-demand jobs of tomorrow.
Post by Heather Reingold, Former FLVS Career & Technical Education Curriculum Manager