Students gaining job skills in classrooms
Posted: October 12, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Senior Sam Sabock could potentially start at an entry-level welding job when he graduates from Handley High School this spring.
“I love to work with my hands,” he said. “If I’m sitting in the classroom, then I’m not paying attention.”
Sam is one of about 700 students — or 60 percent of the student body — at Handley who are enrolled in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) course and one of 36 in the welding curriculum.
There are an additional 308 CTE students at Daniel Morgan Middle School, which is about 25 percent of that school’s enrollment.
On Thursday, the city School Board and Superintendent Rick Leonard took a tour of the two schools’ CTE programs to see what they had to offer.
“We’re not just preparing students to be college-ready, but college- and career-ready,” said Jerry Putt, an assistant principal at Handley. “These skills matter, and kids and parents are recognizing that.”
Handley offers 28 CTE courses, ranging from architectural drawing and design to multimedia. At Daniel Morgan, students get to choose among nine courses, from keyboarding to introductory desktop publishing.
When students finish a CTE course sequence, they can take a test that will earn them industry certification in that field if they pass. Over the course of the past three years, the number of students in the division earning these certifications has grown from 80 to 350.
Students can also earn college credit through some CTE courses.
“By the time they’re done, they could have industry certification and almost have completed an associate’s degree,” said George Craig, the division’s director of curriculum and instruction.
Handley welding instructor Steve Robeson said the opportunities for students with a welding industry certificate are plentiful: They can become welding engineers, inspectors, teachers or sales representatives. They can also go on to a four-year college.
The average age of a welder today is in the mid-50s, with many expected to retire in the next 10 years.
“This field is wide open,” Robeson said.
“The neat thing about getting skills in high school is it’s something you can put in your back pocket and it’s there when you need it,” he added.
Mary Anne Martin, a computer information systems instructor, teaches students about spreadsheets, file management, Word, and database access.
With an industry certification, “employers know [students] know what they’re talking about,” she said.
“Students are really proud to have certification to take out into the workforce.”
The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 2006, which took effect in 2007, is the principal source of federal funding to states for their career and technical education programs. Winchester gets $65,000 a year through the grant.
Superintendent Rick Leonard called the CTE program a multimillion-dollar investment that the School Board has increased funding for over the past few years. The program recently added sections in technology, marketing education and business education, and a state-mandated course in economics and personal finance.
Officials are hopeful that the program will eventually offer health sciences and Air Force ROTC courses and will increase student job placement, such as job shadowing and internships.
For the fiscal year 2013 budget, the School Board, using federal, state and local revenue sources, will spend about $231,500 on Daniel Morgan’s CTE program and $835,077 on Handley’s program. This includes the equivalent of 14.3 teachers, technology, professional development and supplies.
The School Board also pays for the industry certification test and/or workplace readiness skills test for each student enrolled in every high school CTE course — with the approximate cost projected for this school year at $10,000.
— Contact Rebecca Layne at email@example.com