According to Salem CTE Center Chris Dodge, one consistent challenge to enrollment in their programs, which range from Automotive Technology and Culinary Arts to Digital Graphic Applications and Marketing and Sales, stem from public misconceptions.

“There are many people in the general public that refer to what we do as vocational training,” he noted. “That is not what we do at all.”

Noting their programs lead to industry certifications, college credit, post-secondary placement and employment, he said the emphasis of Salem CTE Center–and any similar center across the state–is on college and career readiness.

“We are creating pathways to meaningful careers and sparking students’ interests through experiential, hands-on learning,” he added. “CTE programs are rigorous and can help launch a student’s career.”

Rhonda Haley agrees with Dodge and said her daughter’s experience at Salem CTE Center was invaluable.

“It gave her hands on learning and expertise that she would not have otherwise received at Windham High School,” she said.

Upon completing Culinary Arts at Salem CTE Center, Haley’s daughter Cassie went on “to flourish” at at Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. Cassie is now a front of house MIT (manager in training) for Compass Group, the largest restaurant management group in the United States.

“Both Chef Stuart, before his departure, and Chef Bratz gave Cassie insight not only into the work force, but into expanding her education past high school,” Haley said. “They were able to share their knowledge and visions, which helped Cassie in the decision making process for her own success…Cassie owes so much to the CTE program.”

Cassie agrees with her mom.

“The culinary program [at Salem CTE Center] had similar teachings that my first class at the CIA also provided me,” she said. “This allowed me to be a step above my fellow classmates that did not have a similar class in high school.”

Cassie received her Associates Degree in Culinary Arts in the spring of 2017. She was then accepted into the Bachelors program for Culinary Science and graduated December 2018.

“Cassie shares her alumni status with some of the greatest chefs in the world, including celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, Michael Symon and Todd English,” added Rhonda.

For those still on the fence about CTE programs, Rhonda said she hopes her daughter’s experience helps illustrate what is actually taking place with NH’s CTE centers.

“For Cassie, [CTE] was the foundation for her college education,” she said. “It gave Cassie real life experience while learning and growing. Cassie found herself in that program–she grew and flourished into an amazing Chef.”

For any parent who wants to provide their children with every avenue to learn–whether it is engineering, business, or culinary, Rhonda said CTE programs “open those doors.”

“It gives them hands-on learning and education that can’t be taught straight from a book,” she said. “Giving students every opportunity to learn and spread their wings is what CTE is about.”

Cassie agrees and added, “CTE is not just an industry program that allows students to gain a certificate and bypass college. It opens up different possibilities that a normal high school wouldn’t give you.”

To learn more about Salem CTE Center, visit