CTE program thriving at AHS

ALPENA – Career and Technical Education courses are active and flourishing at Alpena High School thanks to the dedication of CTE teachers, the board of education and student participations in the programs offered. These programs offer a wide variety of hands-on training that helps prepare students to be career and college ready.

“Many of our classes take you right to a career, or they are preparing you to go to college to further a career,” CTE Director Joyce McCoy said. “We’re very fortunate to have these here, and fortunate that our school board still believes in CTE and pays the extra dime to help us. Our district sees the importance of being career ready.”

Participation in CTE programs can lead to a jumpstart in college certificate programs where students can earn math credits and visual and performing arts credits, and many CTE courses are articulated with area colleges.

Federal funds from the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act are allocated based on participating districts and specific activities, and Alpena Public Schools has to match that amount with district funds to continue the programs. Some grant funding also is available for the programs.

CTE teachers focus on keeping up with technology and advancements in their field, and have a network of people and businesses that help them stay on track with the latest advancements.

“Each individual area is always trying to keep up with what is going on in the industry,” teacher Ron Worth said. “Each one of our areas also has an advisory committee that helps us stay on track and provides opportunities for students in an area that is up and coming. It keeps us fresh and keeps our programs fresh.”

Not only does networking benefit the class structure, it also helps students in career opportunities.

“I believe our contacts with local industries help the students move on to jobs in the future,” teacher Ron Cadarette said.

Automotive instructor Mark Hay agreed that the advisory committee process is really a win-win for all the parties involved.

“It is a neat relationship,” Hay said. “They provide us with what is going on in the industry and we provide them with potential employees.”

CTE programs have been around at AHS since the 1960s but originally were known as vocational education programs. Now they also offer opportunities for students looking into continuing their education to get a head start.

“We’re working in alignment with Alpena Community College in some of our courses and some give articulated credit toward college education,” McCoy said. “Our students can progress further if they take our courses first. It means less classes for them in college and some expense savings.”

Most of the teachers have statewide agreements with other universities for articulation credits, which give CTE students a head start in being college and career ready.

“We want to encourage students to see and take courses in our programs,” Hay said. “A lot of times students don’t even know we’re here, and they miss an opportunity to take a skills class they are interested in.”

Within CTE programs, students who may not excel in other classes can thrive in the hands-on work environment involved in each different course, and some count toward high school requirements in visual and performing arts, science, and math. The AHS course guide elaborates on the offerings of some CTE courses and how they qualify for requirements, along with providing a sequence and grade-level guide for each course. In the 10 programs, there are over 50 difference options regarding course opportunities for students, and often courses collaborate between other programs.

“Welding and auto work together all the time, visual imaging might print things for agriculture or automotive and there are many things collaboratively within departments that work together,” McCoy said. “We have to have those real-life opportunities to work, and every one of our classes provides a student leadership opportunity whether it is a formal club, competition or leadership within the classroom.”

Most of the classes are two hour blocks for the year, and with the extra time, instructors are able to provide more individualized instruction to students. Each instructor not only is qualified as a teacher, but also in their field.

“Each teacher, to be certified to teach in a CTE area, has to have at least 2,000 hours of recent relevant work experience in that area,” teacher Kelly Belew said. “We’re not just teaching concepts, we’ve all experienced the real world as it relates to our areas. Everyone has extra or additional credentials.”

Teachers have a range of additional credentials including nursing degrees, welding certifications, automotive certifications and many more, along with viable recent work experience.

“It’s all about working with the kids,” Belew said. “It’s a rewarding experience.”

CTE course offerings include visual imaging, automated accounting, computer technician, programming, retain and advanced marketing, starting a business, web page design, automotive, building trades, drafting and CAD technology, welding, health sciences, cosmetology and various courses in different degrees of agriscience such as biology, chemistry, physics and management.

To find out more about the CTE programs, visit www.alpenaschools.com/schools/ahs and click the link for Career and Technical Education, or call McCoy at 358-5015.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.