February marks Career and Technical Education Month, and two speakers presented information at the monthly Churchill Economic Development Authority’s Business Council Breakfast on Life Ready skills in meeting the challenges of an ever-changing workforce.
Summer Stephens, superintendent of Churchill County School District, and educator April Ryan discussed on Feb. 12 the relationships of businesses and education. Ryan also addressed the school district’s CTE program later that day at the school board meeting.
Stephens and Ryan presented information on a Life Ready event during the first week of March whereby middle and senior high school students will learn more about local businesses and also attend sessions on how to prepare for interviews and resume building.
Ryan briefly discussed a comprehensive needs assessment, the same information presented to trustees. She stressed the assessment is required for all educational entities that receive funds for CTE, provides an opportunity to strengthen community/CTE relationship, ensures alignment of programs of study with local and regional workforce needs and economic priorities, guides resources to programs and outcomes that lead to high-skill, high-wage or in-demand occupations and industry sectors, identifies and addresses equity and opportunity gaps and creates a structure to consistently evaluate and improve program quality and outcome.
“We don’t want to lead kids down a road they won’t use in the future,” she said.
Instructors Elaine Adams, Joe Wood and Chase Johnson each brought a student to assist them with delivering information on their respective courses at the high school.
Adams has taught health science programs for 12 years. Student Vera Vaz said classmates in the Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), help organize blood drives and enter state competitions. Stephens said a pathway for health science students is taking the EMS (emergency medical services) or CNA (certified nursing assistant) courses in high school and receiving certification.
Stephens and Ryan both said students can be 16 years old to work as an EMS or CAN. She said students can make a good wage in either field.
Wood, the high school’s drafting and design instructor, teaches classes at different levels. Students are involved in various projects to include designing the entire plan for a house, which was shown at the CEDA meeting.
Chase Johnson teaches culinary arts and focuses on three different levels. His classroom and instruction are designed to give students a realistic environment of the culinary field. By the third year, he said students are learning more about international cuisines and running a catering company out of the classroom.
Ryan said 53% of the CCHS students are taking CTE classes, and the high school has 14 programs. She added outcomes have been good for Churchill County, and they prepare the students to do a job. She said “the CTE program demographics mirror high school demographics.” At the school board meeting, Ryan said 85% of CTE programs are aligned with CTE College Credit at Western Nevada College, Great Basic College or Truckee Meadows Community College and programs such as agriculture, construction and automotive/diesel are well-aligned with regional job demand
Furthermore, Ryan said the school district works with JOIN (Job Opportunities in Nevada) to provide job shadowing and internships for students. She said juniors and seniors are eligible to find paid job experiences especially in the construction and medical fields. Every student learns a job experience, and Ryan said they are able to make decisions based on their job.
Stephens said CCHS students will have also more future dual enrollment opportunities with their classes. She also said the days of being with one job or company for life has changed because people tend to transition more.