The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board recently resolved to make February Career Technical Education Month.
The last few years have shown CTE is more than just a monthly observance. It’s a growing year-round concentration on every campus.
The Hart District currently has m ore than 75 high school career pathways and more than 25 career exploration opportunities at the junior high level. Pathways include engineering, medical, automotive, construction, cybersecurity and culinary arts to name a few.
More than 85% of all seniors have taken at least one CTE class during the day or after school. The Hart District hosts a unique extended day learning program with more than 1,000 students participating every semester in courses offered at each school site.
Some of these courses provide industry certification which enables students to get hired immediately.
“The District has taken an aggressive approach over the last few years in looking at the future needs in education, manufacturing and building industries,” said Joe Messina, Hart School District Governing Board member. “We are creating and adopting CTE pathways that will help our students find their life work passion and train them up to fill these positions.”
In the last decade, the Hart District has reached out to businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley to learn what the needs in the job market are and how best to prepare students.
Partnerships with the Valley Industry Association led to “Connecting 2 Success” in which sophomores gather with business leaders to learn what it takes to get a job. A multi-leveled partnership with College of the Canyons includes bringing students together on “Manufacturing Day” where students learn of various advanced technology careers and opportunities.
But perhaps the most important aspect of the Hart District’s CTE program is in simply listening to demand of the labor market regionally and globally, adapting to provide the educational needs to fulfill those demands.
“We are not only looking at the direct demands of the market but the subcategories of jobs and industry that are created as new industries emerge and grow,” Messina said.
“When a new manufacturing facility opens in an area, they require many support services — electricians, plumbers carpenters, delivery drivers, healthcare and insurance experts and more,” he said. “We are constantly re-evaluating the needs of the students and matching their passions and abilities with the needs of the market.
“A four-year college is not for everyone,” Messina said. “Many of our students not only learn differently but really enjoy working with their hands, building things, designing things… simply working with their hands and minds.”
Castaic High School is the latest example of the Hart District’s commitment to CTE. When the school was being planned, administrators wanted an entire building on the campus that would be solely for CTE. This permanent building is modular, meaning the interior can be changed to meet the educational needs taught inside of it.
Currently medical, dental, welding and manufacturing technology, as well as all the necessary equipment to teach in those industries, are on the campus at Castaic.
“I am proud of the hard work and energy the district has put into the CTE programs,” Messina said. “But there is never time to rest. Industry is always in flux. How we built houses 50 years ago is NOT how we build them today. New technology, building materials, delivery methods and so much more have to be followed and updated. The district has made it among its top priorities.”
The District also invests in career and college exploration through Xello, a software program that allows students to reflect on their strengths and discover careers and colleges that match their goals. Another program called Canvas helps teachers provide an online experience for the extended day learning program.
For more information on how your student can benefit from the Hart School District’s Career Technical Education, go to PathwayToMyFuture.org.