At Region 14 Applied Technology Center (ATC), which serves the ConVal School District and Jaffrey-Rindge School District, an emphasis on work-based learning (WBL) has led to an innovative partnership with Phaze Welding Technology Center. “Their welding program offers students the most authentic work-based learning experience we can offer as part of a Region 14 ATC course,” said ATC Director Jennifer Kiley.
Daniel Guillou, PHAZE Owner and Instructor, referred to it as an accelerated program, one they developed in partnership with the high school and the Department of Education. “It is not a traditional program that you would see in a typical school setting,” he explained. “There is a lot of information in a short period of time.”
To be successful in the program, Guillou said PHAZE assesses individual needs to create customized lesson plans so each student can earn industry certification. “The program is not graded,” he noted. “It is pass or fail, and failure is not something we accept, so we work very hard to get everyone to pass.”
While PHAZE does not engage in job placement, Guillou cited “a huge network in the welding industry.” “I share my network, and it is up to the student to make that relationship work with those contacts,” he said. “This is an introduction to the top of the ladder. The owners and CEOs at the top executive branch are the ones to get the resumes, and they walk to HR and have them schedule a test. These students bypass the usual process.”
The program, which began in early winter 2020, has already paid dividends for students. Out of the first cohort of students to go through the program, three out of five are working in the field and welding for local companies. “One of our students, Cale Skillings, just completed an internship with American Steel,” said Kiley, who said feedback has been overwhelmingly positive regarding the program.
“They are treated like adults with all of the respect and responsibility that goes with that,” she said. “If the students commit themselves to the work and the program, Dan is willing to work with them to meet their needs and allow them creativity.”
According to Guillou, the program underscores a critical need for welders in the area of which he said there are few. “SoClean Inc. needed safety railings built for their loading docks,” he explained. “The high school kids and I designed and installed the railings for SoClean.”
He said the students were able to learn the whole process to repair, build, and manufacture, while also acquiring more of an idea of what is involved with the whole manufacturing process. “The only thing the students are not learning is the time factor of people wanting it done ‘yesterday,’” he said.
Working with industry partners and community groups, Kiley said they were able to fund 5 students from Antrim to pilot the class. “The ConVal School Board has been generous in supporting this program through the local budget, allowing us to pay for 12 students’ tuition per school year,” she said. “Many students elect to continue their work after the school day and on weekends.”
For Guillou, the takeaway for the students is clear. “One of the most valued things kids get out of it is they are learning something that will immediately apply to their life when they get out of high school,” he said.
Regardless of age or background, many people learn by doing, which is a principle that guides Dave Harkless, who teaches Project Bike Tech at Hugh J. Gallen Career & Technical Center in Littleton. “Students get to build bikes, work on bikes, and ride bikes,” he said.
The two-year Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is not just fun, however, as it helps students understand career pathways within the bicycle industry and prepares them for entry-level positions as bicycle technicians or retail associates. “Students learn valuable job skills and more about jobs in the bike world, too,” said Harkless, who also owns Littleton Bike & Fitness.
“There’s a really high demand for bike mechanics right now, and we can’t even keep up with it,” he added. “We know that when our students do finish the program that there will be a place for them in the workforce.” He said students also learn a variety of other skills that translate into the workplace. “They learn teamwork, accountability, that they have to be on time, and how to use tools — these are basic skills that they can take forward,” he said
Aside from providing students with “great hands-on experience,” Project Bike Tech benefits surrounding communities, as the majority of the bikes go to non-profits, schools and other community-based programs. “We sent a dozen to Riding for Focus, which is a program that provides an energy outlet for ADHD and hyperactive students during the day,” explained Harkless. “We’ve also sent 30 to the Boys and Girls Club, 25 to Copper Cannon Camp, and 15 to White Mountains Regional School.”
Upon program completion, students earn two certificates. One certificate is endorsed by CTE, while the other as an entry-level bike mechanic/assembler is endorsed by members of the bicycle industry. “As the student enters the bike industry, employers know the training is standardized and supported by the cycling industry,” said Harkless, who said he has hired some former students. “We weren’t starting at square one with this,” he said. “They already had good skills.”
A full service CTE facility offering a wide variety of foundation classes for students throughout the North Country,Hugh J. Gallen Career & Center is one of 28 CTE centers throughout New Hampshire.
When people think of culinary programs offered at New Hampshire’s more than two-dozen Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, they likely think of skills related to food preparation, which only tells part of the story. “CTE helped prepare me for industry in many ways,” said Sarah Howland, who graduated from Concord Regional Technical Center’s Culinary & Pastry Arts program in 2015. “It helped me develop people skills and a sense of professionalism.”
Now Banquets and Catering Kitchen Manager at Fratello’s Italian Grille in Manchester, Howland said her experience in CTE was important because it gave her an idea of the restaurant industry itself. “CTE taught me to multitask and work efficiently in a fast-paced environment that can be stressful,” she said. “The program helped me grow as an individual personally and professionally.”
For Adam Parker, who will take over Culinary & Pastry Arts in the fall from Chef Bob McIntosh who has led the program for 20 years, Howland’s CTE experience is not necessarily unique. “I’ve been on the program’s advisory committee for the past three years and seen first-hand how CTE in general can shape a student’s perspective on their future,” he said.
This perspective is built on tangible life skills. “Culinary and Pastry Arts teaches the fundamentals of cooking and baking along with social skills, team building, and individual development within an overall progressive learning environment,” said Parker. “These lifelong skills build confidence, leadership, and a tenacious hunger for knowledge built on goal-oriented daily development.”
As former Director of Operations and Corporate Chef at Fratello’s, Parker also hosted Students-to-Work events and sponsored a culinary scholarship for SkillsUSA NH competitors. “I’ve hired students, some of whom now run their own kitchens,” he added. “In a state struggling to find people to work, CTE is a solution we can tap right now in hospitality and other industries across the state…Sarah’s experience is one of thousands of success stories statewide in a variety of CTE programs.”
Educating students from nine surrounding area high schools through programs that provide specific, career education in career pathways aligned with current and future employment needs, Concord Regional Technical Center (CRTC) is one of 28 CTE centers throughout New Hampshire.
One of the main objectives behind Career and Technical Education (CTE) is to provide high-school students with real-world learning opportunities as they prepare for college and a career. This focus on experiential learning has led to the development of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, a unique program at Huot Career and Technical Center in Laconia.
“We started this program about 8 years ago at the exploratory level, and there was a lot of student interest,” said David Warrender, Director of Career and Technical Education. Now a two-year program, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice covers a variety of related topics, including the social and political influences that contribute to law enforcement. In addition to learning about different policing philosophies, students study constitutional law and major United States and New Hampshire Supreme Court cases.
Bill Clary, retired police officer with 28 years service, teaches the program. According to him, the program is unique in its focus on building community partnerships, which provides students with numerous opportunities to directly engage with professionals in the field. “I have built relationships with every police department in Belknap County,” he said. “Some departments take interns from our program where students can ride along with a police officer, while other departments come in and teach a class or do a demonstration.”
Clary has forged partnerships with New Hampshire State Police, Belknap County Jail, Belknap County Sheriff, Belknap County Attorney, New Hampshire Fish and Game, and Marine Patrol Bureau among other agencies. “The only way we can teach these students what it’s like out there is to show them what it’s like out there,” he added.
Kris Kelley, Deputy Chief of the Gilford Police Department, said individuals who are often successful in getting hired at a law enforcement agency are those who take advantage of these types of programs. “The Huot Technical program provides great insight into law enforcement, while providing firsthand knowledge and expectations of the profession, giving students a leg up on the average applicant without any background,” he said.
Regarding internships, Kelley said they help students gain critical insight into the daily job requirements at area agencies, allowing them to ask questions to gain a deeper understanding. “I really see it as a great opportunity for both the agency and the student, as they may decide to work in the field someday,” he said. “At the very least, they have gained a little more understanding as a citizen, which may give them a slightly different perspective than that of the average person.”
The program at Huot Career and Technical Center has led to many students securing immediate employment at various agencies, including Laconia Police Department, Belmont Police Department, State Police, Maine Corrections and Fire Service. Many have gone on to colleges, some of which include University of New Hampshire, Saint Anselm College, George Mason University, and others.
One of three former students who now work for the Marine Patrol Bureau, Michelle Gallant cited the program’s experiential learning components as critical in her current career choice. “I met extraordinary guest speakers from the law enforcement profession, and I learned first-hand experiences and information from Mr. Clary,” she said. “I was able to go on several field trips to the Laconia Circuit Court, Belknap County Jail, the Laconia Police Department, and more.”
In addition to providing students with a tangible glimpse into a possible career, Clary said the program helps students develop general life skills, such as resume preparation, job interviews and public speaking. He also provides students with assignments in which they must analyze a current issue from both sides. “We want to make sure the students understand both sides and listen,” he said. ”If students can explain both sides of any issues and listen to other viewpoints, we will all be better off for it.”
In response to the pandemic in 2020, many Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers in New Hampshire began to look at ways to integrate cutting edge technology into its programs.
“Investments in technology have enabled us to create interactive and virtual educational experiences for students,” noted Vaso Partinoudi, director of Career and Technical Education, Milford High School & Applied Technology Center.
She said the challenge to creatively engage students is heightened in CTE programs.
“Our whole focus is to provide experiential and technical training to high school students that prepares them for college and careers,” she said. “This type of learning is hands-on, which is difficult to achieve when you cannot physically get together.”
Emerging online educational learning platforms like Newsela, Pear Deck and Nearpod, however, have provided teachers with the ability to virtually engage students in new ways. Tammy Andrew, a computer science teacher at Milford High School who teaches several CTE classes, cited her use of Nearpod as one example.
“Nearpod enables me to make nearly any educational resource — PowerPoints, Google Slides, or any video — interactive,” she said. “Students can personally or anonymously respond to a video, for instance, and share responses. Students can respond to each other, too.”
In a computer programming class, Andrew said students can begin an assignment on a piece of paper or a Google document. If students are visual, they can use their cell phone or camera to submit an assignment. A digital timer, which can be turned off by the student, provides a countdown for those that require it.
“Students have a voice in how they learn,” said Andrew.
At the height of the pandemic, Kim Daniels, marketing educator at Milford High School & Applied Technology Center, said Nearpod helped teachers conduct synchronous lessons while all students were remote.
“Nearpod allows a teacher to cast a PowerPoint on the students device that the teacher controls,” she said. “It also allows for quick check-ins for understanding through a variety of activities that the students can engage in together as a class, even though they are at home learning alone.”
According to Andrew, the pandemic has accelerated the technology adoption rate by school districts.
“We are two to three years ahead of where we would be otherwise if it were not for COVID-19,” she noted. “We are pushing the abilities of Zoom, Canvas and Nearpod into the future because we need these things now.”
Such technologies, while enhancing CTE, cannot replace hands-on lessons and work-based learning.
“A computer is not a substitute for face to face learning,” Daniels said. “The opportunity to provide instant feedback and offer corrections while we watch students work is missing during remote work days.”
Jen Haskins, president of the New Hampshire Career and Technical Administrators Association, agreed and said all CTE centers statewide are “creatively working” to meet the need for experiential learning in the state.
“We continue to work with many stakeholders, including industry partners, to provide students with real-world learning opportunities like apprenticeships and internships,” she said. “With the aging of New Hampshire’s workforce and the ongoing pandemic, CTE is more important than ever.”
With programs ranging from culinary to marketing, biotechnology and more, Career and Technical Education (CTE) in New Hampshire provides high school students with opportunities to not only learn, but develop their knowledge in real-world settings.
“CTE is experiential career training,” explained Karen Hannigan Machado, principal of The Manchester School of Technology, one of more than two-dozen CTE centers across New Hampshire. “They train on the most up to date equipment and go out and learn in the field and job sites.”
This experiential aspect of CTE prepares high school students in measurable ways.
“They can go right into the job they prepared for in high school, or they will be further ahead in a certification or college program,” she added.
According to Jen Haskins, director of Career & Technical Education at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, CTE’s connection with — and alignment to — post-secondary education is often not understood by the general public.
“The biggest misconception people have is the level of rigor found in CTE classes statewide,” she said.
A majority of CTE classes also offer college credit and certifications in a variety of diverse industries.
“Many CTE students can graduate with six to 18 credits of college classes,” said Haskins, who also serves as president of the New Hampshire Career and Technical Administrators Association.
CTE programs are not, however, tied to specific jobs, but instead lead to “career pathways” that prepare students for a variety of different options.
“CTE puts students on trajectories that are far ahead of their peers in regards to hands-on skills and learning, all of which simulate an industry or career,” said Haskins. “CTE’s biggest value propositions include exploration, skill development, college credit and simulation-learning.”
In the Criminal Justice & Homeland Security program at Creteau Technology Center in Rochester, for example, these value propositions lead students through a deep exploration of the justice system in American society.
“They explore the question of crime causation from a number of theoretical perspectives and look at criminal law in the federal and state systems,” explained Michele Halligan-Foley, director of Career Technology Education.
In the program, students analyze essential elements of all major crimes, concepts of constitutional review and judicial scrutiny, and the principles that govern legal challenges to the constitutionality of laws.
“They also examine the causative factors in the development of youthful offenders and the development and philosophy behind treatment and rehabilitative practices,” she added.
The pandemic, however, threatens the viability of this and many CTE programs statewide, as directors navigate the logistical challenges related to providing “hands-on” learning in remote learning environments.
“It’s extremely challenging, especially for CTE students, who want the hands-on learning part,” said Vaso Partinoudi, director of Career and Technical Education, Applied Technology Center (ATC) at Milford High School.
Halligan-Foley agreed and said CTE centers statewide are losing students due to schedule changes brought about by the pandemic.
“It is going to take years to rebuild the numbers in CTE programs,” she said.
The potential impact goes well beyond education.
“The concern is how well-prepared our students will be when they try to get hired or go into training programs and college,” said Hannigan Machado. “It is very difficult to train people with only visuals.”
According to Haskins, CTE’s close connection(s) with industry partners may take on increased significance in the future.
“The relationships CTE programs have with industry is the backbone to students’ success,” she said. “These connections help guide us on curriculum development and real world applications, including opportunities like apprenticeships and internships. We will need to strengthen these relationships.”
Hannigan Machado added, “If we don’t, businesses will need to add more training on their side and won’t have career ready employees…If CTE struggles, the state’s economy struggles, too.”