BERRYVILLE — The Clarke County School Board on Monday night approved expanding Career Technical Exploration (CTE) courses in the 2019-20 school year.

Cathy Seal, director of curriculum and instruction for Clarke County Public Schools, made a presentation on new agriculture classes that would be offered at Johnson-Williams Middle School and new teaching courses slated for Clarke County High School.

Students in sixth and seventh grades will now have the option to take a nine-week agriculture class as a part of their other nine-week rotations in art, career explorations and introduction to technology classes. Sixth graders can take an introduction to agri-science class, and seventh graders can take agri-science exploration.

“We know that agriculture is such a predominant need in our community,” Seal told The Star afterward.

Introduction to agri-science for sixth graders is a project-based learning class that focuses on exploring plant and animal agriculture, agriculture mechanics, natural resource management and agriculture careers. The seventh-grade class, agri-science exploration, looks at exploring the importance of agriculture in the economy, key terms, human relations and communication, and the science of agriculture.

For eighth-graders, there already exists a 36-week course called Foundations of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, which can qualify for high school credit. The course also focuses on looking at agriculture pathways of plants, animals and food science, agriculture skills and safety and Virginia’s agriculture industry.

There is no prerequisite for any of the agriculture classes at the middle school level, Seal said. The purpose of expanding the agriculture classes to sixth- and seventh-grades, Seal said, is to help students decide which track of agriculture science they might like to study in high school.

About $15,000 in materials and classroom supplies will be needed for the new agriculture courses. Updating the greenhouse at the middle school for classroom use will also cost about $20,000.

At the high school, students will now have the opportunity to take courses in teaching called Teachers for Tomorrow I and II. The courses were established in light of the national teacher shortage, Seal said.

Each teaching class is a 36-week course available to 11th- and 12th-grade students. Each class is dual enrolled with Shenandoah University for four credits. The classes will be weighted and will cost $190 per student, which families will be expected to pay.

Students taking the courses will be able to work alongside teachers in classrooms at the elementary and middle school levels, Seal said.

Attending Monday night’s School Board meeting at 317 W. Main St. included Superintendent Chuck Bishop, School Board Chairwoman Monica Singh-Smith and board members Katie Kerr-Hobert, Jonathan Turkel, Zara Ryan and Charles Schutte.

— Contact Anna Merod at

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