SHERIDAN – Sheridan County School District 2 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Education Mitch Craft wants to bust a myth in the community of Sheridan that home economics classes still exist, they just have a new name.
Vocational technical education, or CTE.
Although disguised under an updated title, Craft said the classes taught under this umbrella translate into real-world preparation for students at Sheridan High School. Through the 12 CTE tracks offered at SHS, students who complete an entire track will receive certification in that particular area. For example, students participating in the CTE business accounting course receive certification in QuickBooks, training according to Craft that applies to most office jobs.
âThe nomenclature has changed, but the essence of the programs really hasn’t changed,â Craft said. âThese are designed to give our students a foothold in the workplace and / or university or post-high school graduate studies specifically focused on their career preparation.
âVocational education is very much alive at Sheridan High School and across the country, under a different name: vocational and technical education,â he added.
CTE Department Chair Heidi Richins coordinates faculty and students in many ways, one of which guides them in the practical application of their CTE courses through community placements. Students receive credit toward graduation while gaining real-world experience in special interest work. Sometimes, Richins said, students realize they’re on the right path to a career, while others realize during the internship that they should be looking a different path. Either way, students and businesses benefit from the relationship.
This relationship is also part of the CTE program. As a requirement through Perkins V, school administrators should consult with local businesses to ensure that the electives available through CTE tracks directly benefit the community and students in pursuing careers in those particular fields. Feedback can be obtained in a number of ways, Craft said, with some including formal feedback via surveys or others via feedback from companies hosting SHS interns.
âWe also have great community collaboration on (the CTE programs),â said Craft. âFor each of these journeys, we can also name people and companies from whom we receive feedback and who support our programs. Many of them enter Sheridan College programs.
The 12 tracks include support services, food systems, animal systems, education / training, programming and software development, network systems, accounting, restaurant and food beverage management, design / pre-construction, construction, DEV production process and production.
While other schools may offer more or less options for CTE tracks, Craft said after some adjustments over the years, the number of tracks available to SHS students appears to fit the district appropriately. Each track is closely linked to well-established industries in Sheridan County.
In addition to community business partners, Craft and Richins mentioned Sheridan College as a major contributor to many of the options available to students. Each student wishing to fully invest in a certain CTE path may need to take courses at Sheridan College or may earn credits through concurrent enrollment in courses taught by SHS professors certified to teach college courses.
âOur faculty and the faculty at Sheridan College communicate,â said Craft. âThey communicate about our programs and how our students can prepare for theirs. “
For those students who do not wish to fully invest in a given subject, the option possibilities allow hands-on learning opportunities that benefit their graduation requirements while also allowing them to assess their interest in a particular career. .
âThey’ll end up with a recognized workplace certification,â Craft said. “Having said that, a lot of them are adding certifications.”
Over the next few months, The Sheridan Press will explore each lead, describing how it fits into student life at SHS as well as the broader Sheridan community.
Ashleigh Snoozy joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as a reporter before assuming the role of editor in November 2018. She is originally from Colorado and graduated from Biola University in Los Angeles.