Building robot cars, laying out the yearbook, growing coleus, designing clothes, and welding. These are just a few of the class activities that students in Pasco High School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program engaged in on a recent Friday morning.
Access to so many CTE opportunities enables students to explore their interests and gain skills that will be helpful as they prepare for education and careers after high school.
“Employers in the Tri-Cities area have told me they are struggling to find qualified workers for jobs in technology and manufacturing,” said Laura Jones, a PHS teacher who was named the state Teacher of the Year in 2008. “As a CTE teacher, I am thinking constantly about how I can get my students ready for these good jobs available in our area.”
In a woods technology class, one student showed off his board game. The clean look of the game belied the hard work he had put into it, including project planning and budgeting, graphic design, and laser cutting, said teacher Scott Schadler.
“Students in my class learn how to plan and execute projects from start to finish, which means they have to consider costs and allot work time, as well as use design and wood technology skills,” Schadler said. Throughout the course of the class, students improve their organization and gain confidence in project execution.
Many CTE teachers in Pasco, including Jones, moved into careers in education after working in industry. Their professional experiences highlights possible career paths for students, as well as influencing the content teachers bring to their classrooms.
Down the hall in robotics class, a student tweaked the wiring of her robotic vehicle to enable it to make turns. “It’s been super fun,” she said. Building the vehicle not only required engineering, but computer-aided design (CAD) skills, as well.
During the busy lunch hour, students staffed the school credit union and store, learning skills in customer service, finance, and teamwork.
“Working in the school store is fun, but we also have to put in a lot of effort to keep on top of store inventory, cash flow, and the needs of our customers,” said student Edgar Quiroz Sanchez. “I have learned a lot from my time working in the store. I think it’s made me more responsible and organized and the experience will help me with my goal of earning a degree in business and marketing.”
Other opportunities available to students include sports medicine and marketing, interior design, animal science, nutrition, financial literacy, language interpretation, auto shop work, and more.
The district has about 53 CTE teachers across the middle and high schools.
“There are so many career pathways available to our students, and it takes everyone with in a school building to support students on their journeys,” Jones said.