While many students graduate high school – and even college – with little to no knowledge about what they may want to have in terms of a career, there are some students who do. For those students, the district offers opportunities to explore careers while still in high school as part of its vast array of program offerings.
Sewanhaka High School Assistant Principal Peter Dalton in charge of career technical education offered an overview of the program to members of the board of education at the December 17 meeting at Sewanhaka High School.
There are nine programs in the department which run from one to three years in the fields of architecture, cosmetology and automotive, all of which qualify for a CTE seal, which qualifies under New York State guidelines as rigorous and of a relative curriculum that provides a technical assessment related to the field and a “seamless” connection to college.
The district recently reached an articulation agreement for cosmetology which helps with the state approval process. Curriculums that have been written to ready programs for CTE approval include A+ computer technician, construction trades and tenth and 11th grades of instrumentation and automation (engineering). Curriculums planned on being written through a Perkins grant includes networking, 12th grade instrumentation and automation and graphic design.
In the 2011-12 school year, select students from automotive and cosmetology took third-party assessments, with eight of 10 automotive seniors passing, receiving a technical endorsement on their diploma as well as three cosmetology students. The students took the assessments on a voluntary basis, but this year all architecture, cosmetology and automotive will take the assessment. The district is currently seeking seek articulation agreements with the curriculums that have been rewritten.
“Right now we want to sustain what we have and build from within,” Dalton said when asked if the program would expand the number of course offerings. “In the future certainly one of the areas that we would look to would be the healthcare industry, certainly pharmaceutical tech would be something that comes to mind.”
“I had the opportunity last friday to sit for about 2 hours, an hour and a half with Mr. Koscinski’s architecture students as they did their final projects on the redesign of Sewanhaka High School,” superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie said. “And they provided architectural drawings on the redesign of the cafeteria, redesign of the gymnasium, redesign of the CTE buildings and they actually did renderings, models. Some of their ideas were extremely creative and perhaps we could use them.”
A pilot program is also giving students a unique opportunity in “flipping the classroom,” which is being tested by Dan Labbato and Diane Walters.
“Working with teenagers, it’s important to always be on the lookout for new ways to try and engage them,” said Walters, who came across some strategies on online-learning in summer 2011 and decided to try them in the classroom.
Walters presented a video focusing on the program which was created by two chemistry teachers from Colorado in 2007 designed to limit lectures and enable differentiation and maximize time for coaching and tutoring. As part of the initiative, classwork is done at home while homework is done in the classroom, hence the “flip.”
“Because we can limit the lecture time, there is more time for applying the new concepts in the classrooms,” Walters said.
Students are assigned to watch a video at home and are required to take notes and answer questions. When students return to class, the lesson is reviewed and questions are answered before assigning an application. The teacher then walks around the room to offer individual assistance to students who require more one-on-one. Walters reported that teachers using the method are seeing higher homework participation than last year.
Labbato said that there really has not been a problem with students accessing the videos online, as he also offers the videos to students on a USB thumb-drive or to burn them onto a CD or DVD
“I did notice that the kids would do it and if they didn’t, they’d watch it on the bus on their phones,” he said.
“You’re developing content for mobile devices so it’s not just content for a computer sitting on a desktop in their home,” Walters added. “The content would be viewable, just like Dan said, on the bus on their phone, on their tablet, on their laptop; any mobile device.”
Another district program called “Skills USA” focuses on leadership in order to prepare students for the future and is open to all district students.
“Skills USA provides opportunities to make you a better worker and a better personal role,” Sewanhaka student Anthony Papasodero said, relating of a student trip to Frost Valley where activities stress leadership. “We took nine different people with nine different personalities and made a team that overcame any challenge given to them.”
Last year Nashana Yates, a cosmetology student at Elmont Memorial, had to demonstrate job skills at both regional and state competitions.
“On my part, it required constant practice and timing,” she said, noting her teachers worked with her daily and placed fourth out of 43 entries.
“Certainly under this environment, the (tax) caps, budget cuts and all that, the one thing we want to do is continue to stress, sustain these programs; hopefully grow them in the future but that’s going to be a challenge,” Dr. Ferrie said.