On September 12, Frank Xydias, high school engineering teacher at Milford High School, received the iRobot -STEM -MVP teacher of the year award at Fenway Park, an experience he described as “heartwarming.”

“I stood on the field with my peers for a good part of an hour,” he said. “We were all in awe and star-struck to see the players up close…For that hour, I experienced what every major league athlete, performer, and actor/actress experiences.”

Receiving the accolade because a former students nominated him with a letter, Xydias said the experience was made possible in part by a school with a philosophy that enables students to discover different career pathways.

In a CTE environment, he said he hopes the general public begins to recognize the nature of these pathways, which are no longer just labor-intensive. Rather, many of them focus on advanced technology and skill sets that require college training.

“Students in CTE no longer go ‘right to work,’” he said. “These students ‘go to college.’ CTE prepares students for essential work ready, career-ready skills and helps them develop an essential understanding of their chosen career pathway.”

He cited a close partnership between CTE programs and community colleges, too.

“CTE schools partner with all 7 community colleges and have community partners to help make the programs successful,” he said. “These community partners recognize the value in education and continuing education for a diminishing workforce.”

Julia Fretwell of Hitchiner Manufacturing Co., Inc., which has partnered with Milford High School for a number of years, said they strongly believe in CTE.

“CTE programs offer students in high school the opportunity to experience their potential career path both in and outside of the classroom,” she said. “Outside of the classroom, students are exposed to their potential career path through field trips, job shadows, and internship experiences.”

These experiences, she said, coupled with those in classroom, provide students with a jumpstart on their careers.

“Students in CTE have the ability to graduate with a strong foundation of knowledge in their fields with the potential to earn college credit while in high school,” she said. “From an employer perspective, CTE provides students with necessary skills needed in New Hampshire’s workforce as they graduate high school.”

For engineering students who complete Milford’s CTE complete, they graduate with 13 college credits and a list of network connections from the Society of Manufacturing Engineering and local companies from the Program Advisory Committee.

“These students are well-rounded and use the most up to date materials and trends in our career fields,” Xydias said.

While excited that he received recognition at Fenway Park, Xydias is more enthused at the growth and relevance of CTE.

“30 years ago, there were only two types of career collars that were recognized–blue and white,” he said. “Blue collar became synonyms with vocational and labor intensive and eventually CTE. CTE, though, is not blue collar any longer. We are a rainbow of collar colors and we wear many hats.”

In moving away from the concept of ‘blue and white’ regarding career development. Xydias said CTE fully embodies the spectrum of career development.”

“CTE provides specialized training that requires educational planning for career and college advancement,” he said. “If you were to go to LinkedIn, you would be amazed at diversity of collar colors today.”