Elkin schools lead way in career and technical education
by Anthony Gonzalez
Elkin schools are continuing to succeed in the areas of education and career training as part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs offered, according to school officials.
As part of the school curriculum, students are encouraged to take courses in business, health occupations, agriculture, and other fields that have a direct impact on their marketability following graduation.
“In the 2011-2012 school year, Elkin High School was number one in the state for proficiency in CTE end-of-year exams, while Elkin City Schools was the only local education agency in the Northwest Region that met or exceeded all eight CTE performance indicators,” said Barbara Long, CTE director for Elkin City Schools. “The hard work and the caring attitudes of our CTE teachers and the way that our students embrace the programs allow us to shine.”
Courses are offered in many different career paths. Business, health sciences, agriculture, and several others are available for students who are interested in pursuing a career in fast-growing sectors of the economy.
According to Barbara Long, almost every student takes at least one CTE course during their education. Many take multiple courses, receiving certification in a number of areas like Microsoft Office Specialist or Nurse Aid I.
Career and Technical Education courses may also prevent students from losing interest in school and dropping out. A 2005 report from the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education found that high school students who take one career and technical class for every two academic classes had a decreased risk of dropping out.
“Elkin City Schools has one of the lowest dropout rates of any school system in the state,” Long said.
“One of the main reasons kids drop out of school is because they’re bored. With project-based learning, students are encouraged to explore their own interests and to make connections to the world beyond school,” Long said.
Organizations such as Future Business Leaders of America, Future Farmers of America, Technical Honor Society, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, and Health Occupations are part of the CTE program and allow students extracurricular activities. Also, close ties with local organizations like Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital and other area health care providers makes the health occupations program “excellent,” Long said.
Students and parents both recognize the benefits to getting job training while still in school. With the economy continuing to struggle, CTE programs give students the skills to compete in the job market. With CTE courses, students are also more likely to continue into secondary education programs such as two- or four-year universities.
“In the past, vocational education was seen as a second-class education, the path for students who planned to skip college and head directly into the workforce. This has changed,” Long said.
Once seen as a quick path to the workforce, CTE programs are now part of a career plan that includes continuing educational opportunities.
“A person with a CTE-related associate degree or credential will earn an average of between $5,000 and $15,000 more a year than a person with a humanities or social sciences associate degree,” said Long. “Those with credentials in high-demand fields such as health care can average almost $20,000 more a year.”
February is National CTE Month. Look for more stories highlighting the students and activities of Elkin’s CTE programs in coming issues of the Elkin Tribune.
To reach Taylor Pardue, call (336) 835-1513 ext. 15, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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