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VOL. 36 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 12, 2012

CTE curriculum designed to get students into college programs

By John McBryde

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Veteran teacher Tim Sawyer may have the best assessment of the career and technology education programs found in most Midstate school districts.

“We’re not your grandfather’s vocational ed,” says Sawyer, who has taught 28 years in Williamson County schools, the last 14 as a Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructor at Centennial High School. “They were great programs and everything, but we’ve gotten a little more technology-savvy and more focused on getting kids into college and keeping them in college.”

All nine public high schools in Williamson County have CTE programs, including agriculture, food and natural resources; health science; hospitality and tourism; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We have health science in all our schools because the health industry is such a major player in our county,” says Rhonda Booker Long, CTE coordinator for Williamson County schools.

“Our biggest challenge is to prepare students for the 21st century job market,” she adds. “The CTE program is in most other school districts surrounding Nashville, and it generally shows quite the success rate.

“We’ve found that if we can get a student to take three classes in CTE, there’s about a 97 percent chance they will graduate,” says Bill Moss, longtime CTE coordinator for Wilson County schools. “About 78 percent of our students (in the four public high schools) do participate in the program.”

Moss says agriculture and health science are the main clusters in Wilson County.

These two clusters and six others are part of the CTE program in Dickson County, where 83 percent of high school students are enrolled in CTE courses.

Sawyer, who teaches drafting, pre-engineering and architecture classes at Centennial, says the program at his school has grown substantially in recent years.

“When we started out, we had two drafting classes with 28 total kids,” he says. “Now we have six classes and almost 250 students.”