Etowah High School celebrates the community support that's making its newly re-established construction program a success.
The Cherokee County School District is building a stronger career education program to prepare students for more choices and opportunities after graduation!
Career, Technical and Agricultural Education, or CTAE, has long been rooted in CCSD high schools, with dozens of programs offered and refined over the years based on student interest and workforce needs.
Many of CCSD’s 35 programs, like construction (formerly known simply as “shop”) and family and consumer sciences (formerly home economics), have been in place for decades, while others, like healthcare science and Internet of Things, are much newer.
“Our mission is to educate the emerging generation, and that education extends beyond core academics to also include specific knowledge and skills needed in their future careers,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Just as our Advanced Placement classes and other challenging academic courses drive college and university success, our CTAE Career Pathways classes, Work-Based Learning program and industry certifications give our students an edge in the workplace.”
CCSD’s CTAE program, overseen at the District level by Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes and CTAE Administrator Dr. Krista Webb, is expanding each year with new courses, certifications and partnerships.
One of the most valuable partnerships is CCSD’s inclusion in the Cherokee Workforce Collaborative, a working group recently launched by the Cherokee County Office of Economic Development to encourage more residents to work in the same community where they live and play.
Made up of business and industry, nonprofit and government leaders, the Collaborative’s initiatives in partnership with CCSD so far have included a summer internship program for high school students to learn and earn through jobs at local industries; a student film summit and film festival in partnership with the local film industry; and a summer externship program for high school teachers and counselors to visit local employers and learn more about opportunities for their students.
Collaborative members also helped lead the resurrection of the construction program at Etowah High School. The program, which in its heyday built everything from the football stadium concession stands to careers for future construction workers, is back on campus with two classes led by teacher Brandon Chester. The CCSD alum leads two classes with a total of 52 students, who are beginning the construction Career Pathway series of courses thanks to community support. More than 20 construction companies and nonprofit organizations, such as the Matiak Foundation, have made significant donations of time, talent and treasure.
“The community support has been amazing,” Dr. Webb said, adding that these partners serve as classroom speakers; donate tools, supplies and materials; and act as program advisors.
The construction Pathway also is offered at Cherokee High School, and the two schools soon will share another program in common: automotive collision repair. Both Cherokee and Etowah, as well as Sequoyah High School, long have offered automotive courses, but collision repair is a new option now at Etowah and coming online next school year for Cherokee. These three automotive programs also share a passion for competition, with students participating in extra-curricular SkillsUSA and Hot Rodders of Tomorrow teams to test their skills at the State and National level… and have earned National rankings!
The healthcare science Career Pathway soon will be training more future medical professionals with the expansion of that program to Sequoyah High School next school year. The popular program, which offers high school students the opportunity to explore careers in different fields of medicine, already is in place at Cherokee, Creekview, Etowah and River Ridge High Schools; through the program at Cherokee and River Ridge, students also can earn a Certified Nursing Assistant license. The Education SPLOST-funded construction of a healthcare science laboratory within Sequoyah East over the summer break will make the start of the program possible, as its classes require students to participate in hands-on lessons using hospital equipment.
CCSD soon will break ground on another CTAE construction project: an agriculture science lab building at Creekview High School to expand its recently established program, which joined Cherokee and Etowah in offering courses in this field. The one-year construction program will begin in January, with funding from the Ed SPLOST supplemented by a State grant.
For this school year, Creekview added two new agriculture Career Pathways: Agricultural Mechanics/Electrical Systems; and Veterinary Science to its current pathway of Equine Science. The program growth was made possible thanks to donations from partners including Inglett and Stubbs Electrical Construction Company in Atlanta, which has contributed materials and staff time and expertise.
The film industry is booming in Georgia, and CCSD prepares many graduates for careers in it, with programs offered at all six high schools. The Sequoyah High School program, led by teacher John Cribb, this fall will join Etowah in holding a special distinction: industry certification. The Media Education Foundation of Georgia will honor Sequoyah’s program and Mr. Cribb with an official presentation next month. According to the Georgia Department of Education, programs that earn industry certification have “received a ‘stamp of excellence,’ which represents the apex of program quality. Only those programs that have successfully undergone rigorous reviews by leaders from business and industry are recognized with this distinction.”
Dr. Webb and her team of CTAE and Work-Based Learning educators are focused on preparing students for both the careers of today and tomorrow, and to meet that goal have been meeting with colleagues from across the state and visiting campuses to learn about new programs to offer CCSD students.
Another important focus has been expanding partnerships and recognizing partners making significant contributions, such as the successful collaboration with Northside Hospital Cherokee and Pinnacle Orthpaedics to give healthcare students clinical rotation opportunities and Chart Industries’ support of the welding program at Cherokee High School, which sees impressive job placement rates for its graduates.
“We want every graduate to be future ready, and while we’re on the right pathway, we need the support of our business community to be as successful as possible,” Dr. Hightower said. “We can do more together and are ready to go to work!”
To learn more about CCSD’s CTAE offerings, including a guide to the Career Pathway options available at each high school as well as videos spotlighting them, please visit http://bit.ly/CCSDctae
Creekview High School agriculture students thank Bill Edler, superintendent of Inglett and Stubbs Electrical Construction Company in Atlanta, for his support of the new Agricultural Mechanics/Electrical Systems program.