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Cooper declares February as Career and Technical Education Month, showcases programs

A UNC student studies inside of the BeAm Maker Space in Murray Hall on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.

Earlier this month, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order declaring February 2023 to be Career and Technical Education Month in North Carolina. 

In CTE programs, students are able to enroll in courses that would allow them to explore different career options and fields. While all students are required to take the same classes such as biology, chemistry or world history, CTE classes are chosen by students. 

CTE provides education options to help students find rewarding careers. The proclamation and celebration of CTE Month brings attention to 16 career clusters built into in the CTE program.

The program includes clusters like agriculture, food and natural resources; arts, A/V technology and communications; business management and administration; government and public administration; law, public safety, corrections and security; education and training; health science; and architecture and construction. 

“CTE is really a sequence of classes," Kathi Breweur, the Career and Technical Education director for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said. "It provides pathway options — pathways being the sequence of classes that align to the student's interest — and so we really prepare the students for life after high school. It's really significant for students to take these elective courses and give them the competitive advantage."

A student who is considering entering the medical field, for instance, could take health science classes in school to determine if they want to continue that pathway.

“I think it just helps prepare you by actually giving you real-life skills as opposed to, possibly, other skills that you might never use in your future,”  Elkin High School student Rachel Winfrey said.

Winfrey said she was able to complete the Pre-Professional Assessment and Certification in Family and Consumer Sciences. In comparison to other things she learned in school, Winfrey said that getting certified taught her new skills that she has applied outside the classroom.

CTE programs help students gain skills between high school and postsecondary and career plans. CTE includes not only in-school programs, but also includes opportunities for students to connect with outside organizations. 

“We are being very intentional about aligning workplace or industry-recognized credentials to the courses that we're teaching in the high school,” Shannon Braxton, the director of CTE and Cultural Arts for Orange County Schools, said. 

Orange County School's CTE programs, she said, allow students the opportunity to take industry-recognized credentials as well as the ordinary courses that go toward earning a high school diploma. She noted that this could give them a leg up when looking for a career.

Braxton added that there are seven different pathways that a student could explore in the OCS system. Agriculture, mechanics, computer science and information technology, accounting and marketing, apparel and textiles, career management and health science are all offered in OCS schools. 

CTE opportunities are offered all year. But, in the month of February, OCS works on celebrating and recognizing students in different program areas to showcase their work and demonstrate how CTE allows students to have an advantage when deciding their career pathway, Braxton said. 

Braxton also said the district is working to use social media to feature students in CTE programs. 

"We're just trying to get the word out about all the different classes that we have, all the different opportunities our students are getting — and really trying to promote the industry-recognized credentials that these students have an opportunity to take," Braxton said. 

@DTHCityState | 

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