This week, the Portsmouth Sheraton Harborside hosted the 2021 New Hampshire Career and Technical Education (NH-CTE) Summer Learning Series. Several hundred career and technical education (CTE) teachers, administrators, school counselors, special educators, industry and postsecondary partners gathered to connect with one another, reflect on successes and challenges of the past two years, and plan for successful futures. The energy and excitement of in-person connecting and learning could be felt throughout the three-day learning series.
The event kicked off on Sunday, August 1st with a pre-conference reception and career cluster related professional learning community time. Non-profit and industry-related supporters of CTE were present throughout the event, sharing information and resources to support CTE facilities and instruction throughout New Hampshire. Vendors shared information regarding CTE-related software, equipment, supplies, financial aid, and career pathways.
On Monday and Tuesday, August 2nd and 3rd, the agenda was packed with collaborative work, educational sessions, industry panels, and the annual CTE awards. The event kicked off in the ballroom with NH-Career Technical Administrators President, Jennifer Haskins and NH-CTE Executive Director, Nicole Heimarck, welcoming the NH CTE community back to the first face-to-face learning series in two years and setting the tone for an engaging event. McKenzie Snow, the new Director of the NH Department of Education’s Division of Learner Support, welcomed attendees and shared her history and role.
Deputy Director of Advance CTE, Kate Kreamer, keynoted the day sharing a message of equity, inclusion, and continual improvement for CTE. She shared a national report, “Without Limits: A Shared Vision for Career Technical Education.” The afternoon sessions transitioned into breakout sessions that provided a range of opportunities, such as Linking CTE to Industry Certifications to Create Successful Pathways, Differentiating in the CTE Classroom, CTE and Industry Alignment: Transformation and Innovation. The early evening provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from industry partners including TRANE, Lincoln Electric, and Festo regarding developing industry partnerships, current and future technology integration in industry and the importance of skills-based credentials.
This work will set the foundation for local and statewide CTE centers kicking off the school year and to support learners and industry partners moving forward. Integration of online learning tools, skill-based industry credentials, and collaborative partnerships with industry are three of the focus areas for centers.
Stories of exemplary partnerships were highlighted at the event, such as the New Hampshire Automobile Dealerships Education Foundation and the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association’s. The need to continue building similar partnerships across industries was also discussed.
In 2019, Bruce Farr, Principal of Lakes Region Technical Center (LRTC), received the 2019 NHCTE Service Award, a recognition that underscores for him the importance of Career and Technical Education (CTE) itself.
“Everyone needs a balanced education,” he said. “Public education must provide our young people with an appreciation for the arts, academic skills, civic engagement and job skills.”
This need, he said, has always been top of mind for him.
“Growing up in rural New Hampshire, I witnessed the effect of not having the skills to be successfully employed and the benefits of having valued skills in the workplace,” he said.
For Farr, who has more than 45 years experience in CTE, a continuing issue is that the general public still does not know about this educational arm in the state.
“In many ways, CTE continues to be an unseen ‘jewel’ of public education,” he explained. “Those who have been enrolled in CTE programs or have volunteered in those programs clearly appreciate CTE. However, many of our citizens do not know the opportunities for our students.”
Noting he is personally and professional humbled at receiving the 2019 NHCTE Service Award, Farr expressed particular enthusiasm in his role at helping to modernize NH’s Alternative 4 (Alt 4) program.
“It is a customized process whereby candidates who are highly successful in their field, but lack the traditional formal 4-year teacher preparation degree, are better supported during the certification process,” he said.
The need for Alt 4, he said, cannot be overemphasized.
“A CTE instructor must not only have the ability to successfully teach young people, but they also need extensive firsthand knowledge of their trade/industry,” said Farr. “We have candidates who are willing to make that mid career change and we need to support them.”
He described Alt 4 as an “on-ramp for highly qualified people to enter the field.”
“Each individual’s skills are examined and compared to the state teacher competencies, which results in a plan that can be developed to assist him or her acquire those missing skills,” he said. “It’s a terrific program.”
In looking ahead for CTE and LRTC, Farr said he is excited that at the development of a more seamless transition from high school to either direct job placement or post-secondary school.
“The expansion of CTE to include a rigorous senior year where a student can be enrolled in college, intern in several businesses or start an apprenticeship will support this, too,” he added.
To learn more about LRTC, visit https://www.lakesregiontechcenter.org.
Career and Technical Education is often at the forefront when it comes to experiential, hands-on education, which is demonstrated in a recently announced collaboration between Seacoast School of Technology (SST) and Volvo Car University.
Spearheaded by Dan Enxing of Volvo Cars Exeter, SST is one of six schools in the nation–and the only high school–to receive a new Volvo s60.
“The goal is to get students working on relevant cars with new technology so they will be better prepared for the work place,” said Enxing, member of the Exeter Area New Car Dealers Association.
He said Volvo Corporate is putting “a lot into this program.”
“They will watch to see what effect it has on the schools and quality of student that graduates and enter the workforce,” he said.
Noting he advocated for SST to receive a pre-production car upon learning about the program, Enxing said he will donate all of the special tools the students will need to work on it.
“This program is where my future technicians will come from,” he explained. “If we can help get them working on cars with modern technology, it will benefit the students and dealers…There is a shortage of new technicians, and I see this [program] as one way to help students get excited about becoming a technician.”
According to SST Principal Sharon Wilson, this kind of collaboration with industry partners represents “the heart and soul of CTE.”
“It takes great learning opportunities and gives them a weight that can only be achieved by making it ‘real,’” she said.
This reality, she said, could could refer to earning college credits, obtaining industry certifications, or gaining work-based experience.
“We serve six different sending schools and are fortunate to be part of a local community that embraces our school and our mission,” she said.
Regarding the impact she envisions this collaboration will have for Automotive students at SST, it has for student learning
Noting the degree of sophistication for automotive repairs has increased exponentially, Wilson said this opportunity will help their students “be truly competitive and marketable.”
“We need to give them the most rich and diverse opportunities to hone their skills and challenge them,” she said. “This donation of a pre-production vehicle will open up new pathways for our students, making them more competitive candidates in regards to employability.”
In reflecting on the importance of CTE itself, Wilson said it is important the general public understand its role in today’s economic landscape.
“CTE programs allow students to earn credits while in high school at a significant financial savings while allowing them to better commit to a major down the road,” she said.
11 out of 12 SST programs have dual enrollment opportunities.
Last year, SST students earned 1,667 college credits while enrolled here,” she said. “The financial savings available to students from this is a game changer.”
Wilson said students in CTE are also more likely to graduate from high school.
“Nationwide, they have a 93% graduation rate, which is 13% higher than those who do not take CTE programs,” she said. “91% of students who take 2 to 3 courses in a CTE program also go on to enroll in college…These are important stats and paint a different picture than I think people generally have of CTE.”
To learn more about the SST, or its collaboration with Volvo, visit seacoasttech.com.
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