- Piner Middle School
CTE Prepares Students For Post-Graduation
By Todd Kleiboer
Junior Evelyn Arnaut transferred to Sherman High School from a different state her freshman year, and she had her heart set on becoming a small veterinarian. By taking the animal science pathway, she’s certainly following that goal.
“There was a family friend who worked with birds,” Arnaut said about choosing to be a small animal vet. “She was telling me about how she had to find a special bird doctor, and I thought, well, I want to do that.”
However, Arnaut branched off a bit and took advantage of the breadth of SHS’s Career and Technical Education Department. She jumped into welding classes and just finished a project for an ag mechanics show.
“I thought it just seemed cool,” she said. “It’s very fun.”
In an ever-evolving job market, CTE courses teach the skills needed to be competitive, and SHS offers 22 programs, ranging from accounting to health science to law enforcement.
“It gives students the opportunity to test out different career paths and different interests that they have,” SHS CTE Department Chair Kristi Sroka said. “Some students are really focused and know what they want to do, but others want to see what’s out there.”
In addition to the many programs, students can walk away from graduation with not only their diploma but an industry-based certification. Thirty are available between all the programs. For example, students involved in design and multimedia can earn Adobe Creative Suite certifications, and in ag mechanics, a basic welding certification is offered.
“Our students are able to be more competitive right out of high school when they’re looking for jobs and being qualified individuals,” Sroka said.
Incoming freshmen select their CTE program when moving into high school, but they are not limited to only those courses. Students can take courses outside their program as electives, Sroka said.
“I have students who are really involved in the animal science pathway, but they’re also involved in the health science pathway,” she added. “They’re able to test out the different opportunities that are available to them.”
Nine out of every 10 SHS students are enrolled in a CTE course of some kind, and the new high school campus has an entire wing dedicated to those courses. Once students near the end of their pathway, they might head outside the school as part of their practicum.
“We have students go over to Wilson N. Jones [Regional Medical Center], so they’re able to see all kinds of things over there,” Sroka said. “I have a student in engineering who works primarily in AutoCAD (software for drafting blueprints), so he does AutoCAD drawings for a company.”
Some of the new instructors also draw on industry experience to teach the next generation.
“We wanted to make sure that we put together a really comprehensive CTE team of people who brought experience,” Sroka said. “I think we’ve managed to accomplish that.”