POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Career Center (MCCC) has been celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE) month by sharing what CTE is and what all the programs have to offer.
Some students and instructors alike stated they believe most people have no idea what is done at the MCCC.
“Students who come to the Career Center are prepared to go to college or to go out in the workforce,” said Cheryl Moore, principal.
“Career and Technical Education gives high school students the chance to get a head start on preparing for college and careers,” according to the MCCC brochure. “In CTE programs you will learn how core school subjects like math, science and writing are used in real-life. As a CTE student, you have the opportunity to participate in hands-on training in your chosen program. Many programs offer you the opportunity to earn recognized certifications, which you can use to get a job that will help you pay for college or start of your career, straight out of high school.”
“I tell the students when they come around for the projected new programs, that it could be something that could get you right into the job market or it can be a stepping stone,” said Carla King, counselor.
King said there’s a negative mindset around technical education.
“It’s a mindset that says [if] you come to the Career Center, you cannot attend college. Yes, you can,” King said. “I [tell] everyone of the groups that I [speak] to, don’t let anyone tell you you cannot attend [college]…”
CareerTech.org says that about 12.5 million high school and college students are enrolled in CTE courses across the nation and high schoolers involved with CTE have a 90% higher graduation rate than the national average.
Moore said she believes the most important thing people need to know is that college is still an option for Career Center students.
“They think these kids, the only option they have is to go straight into the workforce and that’s not true,” Moore said.
King said a lot of the programs are the beginning and can take them further into their chosen field.
Both King and Moore said they have witnessed a number of students who do choose to go straight into the job field and are successful.
“They are certified. They have the certifications they need for that,” Moore said.
The school wants to show the community the number of benefits from CTE.
“You’re career ready,” said Brandy Sweeney, embedded English teacher. “A lot of these kids can go out and get a job out of high school, and many will make a lot more money than say I do, because I’ve got student loans [to] pay back.”
Sweeney said a past student recently visited, sharing his success since graduation.
“There was someone that actually just visited [Brent] Hereford’s class that graduated two years ago,” Sweeney said. “I don’t know where he works exactly, but he’s out welding…”
Sweeney said, while this student did not attend college, students still have the opportunity.
“You can still [attend college]. I know some of the automotive people, you can go to places like Bridge Valley and further your education after high school, but still getting the trade, the skills,” Sweeney said.
Not only do the students get hands-on experience, but the MCCC students are community-oriented, Sweeney said.
“The FFA [Future Farmers of America], they’ve done a ton of things,” Sweeney said. “We have a National Technical Honor Society and at Christmas time they did the ‘Teens for Christmas.’ They collected teen items [to] donate to Toys for Kids.”
Students also made Valentines to deliver to nursing home residents.
Sweeney said both organizations have been planning ways to give back to the community in the spring. She also explained the graphic design classes design many items for the community and for the school.
The design class designed and printed the banner used for the CTE month awareness.
Sweeney said one of her favorite parts about working at the Career Center is the relationship made with the students.
“It is similar to [a] workplace, so it’s like having a job. You can treat them like adults,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said between the relationships and the way the shops are setup, students learn more about communication in the workplace.
“They have the foreman and assistant foreman, they have to fill out their little time sheet every time they come in. It is like a job,” Sweeney said. “It really tries to mimic what it’s like out in the real world.”
Parents with students interested in the programs offered at the Career Center need to ensure their counselors know, Sweeney said.
The main goal instructors have for their students is to build a portfolio with a resume and letter of introduction and to obtain as many certifications as they are able to achieve to be as career ready as possible, Sweeney also said.
The Career Center offers programs in health occupations, engineering, electrical technology, graphic design, HVAC, auto technology, culinary, welding, agriculture, careers in education and precision tooling.
The staff said students and parents are welcome to tour the facility and learn more about the programs; to do so they need to call the office and set up an appointment.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.