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ECSD Celebrated Career Technical Education in February

As part of celebrating career technical education for the month of February, we held a Q&A with Elko County School District (ECSD) Career Technical Education (CTE) Coordinator Heather Steel. Please see below.

CTE Month - Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow!
  • Q: How does CTE College Credit enhance existing course offerings in ECSD?
    Students enrolled in eligible CTE programs for CTE College Credit qualify for free college credit through any NSHE Community Colleges. In order to qualify for CTE College Credit, students are required to complete the three-year sequence (Level I, II, and III), and pass the Nevada Assessments for Workplace Readiness Skills and the end of program assessment. These assessments are free and administered in the spring each year. Students who qualify are also required to apply for admission at the community college of choice and apply for their CTE credit. Students who have an interest in CTE College Credit can find more information on the Great Basin College CTE College Credit website.
  • Q: Can you describe your outreach to business and industry partners, and your efforts to help students secure/explore their options that will better prepare them for tomorrow's workforce?
    Building our Work Based Learning program is in its infancy. I am constantly seeking businesses who are willing and would like to participate in our Work Based Learning program. Many of our CTE programs have partners that they work with specifically and it is amazing, I am looking for business and industry partners on a district scale who have an interest in working with our CTE programs and students to strengthen the bridge from school to work! This work could take many forms and isn't just for hiring students, it can be providing feedback in our advisory committees, participating in individual school programs directly linked to a particular business, providing industry tours, guest speakers, and promoting the connection between our students and their futures! The Work Based Learning program is now required to be offered to all high school students, not just specific programs. I am currently working on getting an online platform for our district that will connect businesses directly to our students. In addition, the State of Nevada has purchased NEPRIS for all our programs which links our classrooms directly to professionals in the industry, where teachers can request specific kinds of support from the industry.
    Kinross has recently reached out and offered to provide us with human capital to help us reach our objectives. They have really come on board ready to help! They will be working with us district-wide from K–12, including having their professionals work with our programs to provide project-based learning based on their industry, judges for our STEM fair, reading days, engineers supporting our teachers and students, providing us with support and materials to accomplish goals for both WBL, PBL, and giving students access to real-world examples and skills that they need in the industry. For example, they are currently working with our Ag Mechanics and Welding Technology programs to build geoprisms. The project is not just about the programs building geoprisms, but will support with engineers and other professionals in the field to explain what we use geoprisms for and why and how they need to be built, along with providing the materials required for building the geoprisms, and providing recognition to the students after completion of the job. It's an opportunity for our students to provide goods and services to a major employer in the area.
  • Q: What are ECSD's most popular CTE programs?
    We offer 77 different CTE programs in our eight high schools. This gives our high school students a lot of choice for pursuing and exploring different pathways in their high schools. Each high school offers different programs, based on what works best for their students. Our Ag programs have the highest enrollments, but Ag pathways aren't offered at every high school in the district. Health Science programs are also very popular, but not offered at every high school. Foods and Nutrition and Furniture and Cabinetmaking are also very popular pathways.
  • Q: Isn't a CTE program gaining a new state-of-the-art facility soon?
    We are working with the board of trustees and the building department in hope that we can use some of the remaining PAYG funds to build a new facility for the Ag Programs at Spring Creek High School. A lab in that building will be dedicated to Food Science Technology, which is included in that building. The Food Science program will teach students valuable skills in food processing standards, which includes meat cutting and preparation. We have a Food Science program in Wells, and that program is booked with those services throughout the entire school year, and the need for another facility is in high demand. The students who complete this program can go directly into the workforce with a high starting salary, which is one of our big goals with CTE. We already purchased the equipment for the facility, but we cannot set it up until we have a proper facility that can meet the expectations for the Nevada Department of Ag.

Anything else you think might be worth highlighting this month:

Spring Creek Middle School (SCMS) came on board with new programs! The courses are semester-based, so essentially ALL SCMS middle school students now have the ability to participate in at least one program, if not many in grades 6–8, prior to entering Spring Creek High School, giving them the opportunity to explore CTE pathways before they have to choose what program they want to enroll in.

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