Career Technical Education evolves to offer more

by David Morgan, Lawrence County Executive

In May this year I devoted several columns to the great job Lawrence County Schools do for our kids and our community.

There were many topics to cover, so I touched only briefly on the impact of Career Technical Education (CTE). It was called the “vocational” department when I was a student at LCHS, but much more than its name has changed.

CTE Director Shannon Watson, Director of Schools Michael Adkins, and Chamber President Ryan Egly were in my office last week to talk about the advantages CTE offers students, in partnership with the business community and Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCATs) in this area.

It’s very important to give students as much information and experience as possible about the world of work, because a great chunk of their lives will be spent there. Through our high school CTE programs, students get real-life experience in the following programs, offered at the following schools:

  • Agriculture: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Automotive: LCHS
  • Construction: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Business: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Cosmetology: LCHS, LHS, SHS Fall 2024
  • Digital Design: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Engineering/STEM: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Family & Consumer Science: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Health Science: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Teaching as a Profession: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • Welding: LCHS, LHS, SHS
  • And, coming to SHS in Fall 2024: Criminal Justice

Many of us started working before high school graduation and that’s still true today: an incredible 48% of Lawrence County students have jobs. Through our CTE programs, high school students can earn industry certifications, and the numbers continue to grow. In 2021-22, students completed a total of 924 certifications; in 2022-23, the number grew to 1,569.

Industry certifications offered include:

  • Adult, Infant, and Child CPR/AED/First Aid
  • Briggs & Stratton Basic Small Engine Certification
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Emergency Medical Responder (First Responder)
  • ForestryWorks
  • MOS Excel Associate Certification
  • MOS Excel Expert Certification
  • MOS PowerPoint Associate Certification
  • MOD Word Associate Certification
  • MOS Word Expert Certification
  • NC3 Snap-On Battery Starting and Charging
  • NC3 Snap-On Electronic & Mechanical Torque
  • NC3 Snap-On Multimeter Certification
  • NC3 Snap-On Precision Measurements Instruments
  • NC3 Snap-On TPMS Certification
  • OSHA 10 Construction
  • OSHA 10 General Industry
  • OSHA 10 Agriculture
  • OSHA 10 Healthcare
  • Remote Worker Certification
  • ServSafe Food Handler

Many are also able to earn credit toward high school and TCAT or college through dual enrollment programs. This gives students a head start in postsecondary school, saving them and their family money.

In 2022-23, a total of 586 students earned dual credit in their high school CTE classes through partnerships with TCAT-Pulaski, TCAT-Hohenwald, and TCAT-Crump. Programs include Industrial Maintenance, Welding, Cosmetology, Digital Design, Plumbing & Electrical, Construction and Farming Operations Technology.

Another 247 students earned dual credit through Columbia State and UNA last school year. Columbia State offers dual enrollment classes at their new STHEC facility in freshman courses, and in Health Science, Computer Science, Engineering/STEM, and, beginning Fall 2024, Teaching as a Profession. UNA classes in basic freshman subjects are offered online at our high schools.

Next week, we’ll look at other aspects of CTE and exciting plans for the future.

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