What do I want to be when I grow up? What will it take to be successful? What are my choices? How will I know what career is right for me?
Hats off to the career and technical education teachers in our middle and high schools, special programs, and Academies who give our students a glimpse at their future… helping students make connections as they apply core academics in real-world, hands-on settings!
Not so long ago, a high school diploma still opened the door to a variety of jobs at a decent wage. Not today. Because the marketplace demands a broader range and depth of knowledge and a different skill set, the vast majority of students will need some form of postsecondary study beyond high school, whether a certification program, a trade school, a two-year technical college, or a four-year university degree or beyond.
For the more than 70,000 GCPS middle and high school students, elective career and technical education classes are giving them a jump on their future as they explore careers with hands-on, real-world experiences. All Gwinnett high schools offer courses in business, computer science, marketing, and video. Most have engineering and family and consumer science, and many include teaching as an option. Specialized programs expand career-focused offerings, including those offered through Maxwell HS of Technology and the Grayson HS Technical Education Program. (Registration is now open for the 2017-18 school year for Maxwell and Grayson. Students can learn more on the school websites or from their school counselor.) New at Norcross HS this year, 9th graders are participating in the first year of a four-year Junior Achievement (JA) Academy.
Through “connections” classes, middle school students are introduced to various career-related skills in subjects like engineering, business, marketing, technology, and family and consumer science.
Gwinnett students can test drive a possible career by pursuing a Career Pathway, a concentration of three or four designated technical and/or academic courses that offer a seamless path to postsecondary work in college or technical school in a designated field. In Gwinnett, close to 60 Pathways fall under 17 broad Career Clusters, ranging from Engineering and Marketing to Advanced Academics and Hospitality and Tourism.
Most, but not all Pathways are available in traditional Gwinnett high schools, Maxwell, or the career and technical education program at Grayson. Students attending an Academy high school— currently Berkmar, Central Gwinnett, Discovery, Lanier, Meadowcreek, Shiloh, and South Gwinnett— take both core and elective courses reflecting one of the available Pathways. Examples from our newest academies include the Business Administration and Entrepreneurship Academy at Discovery and the Health and Human Services Academy at Berkmar.
Students pursuing most Pathways, particularly those with a career or technical focus, may have the opportunity to take a culminating exam, finishing high school studies with an industry-specific certificate, credential, or endorsement. End-of-Pathway assessments are sanctioned by the Georgia Department of Education, and reflect national industry standards, national occupational assessments, or state licensures/state-developed assessments.
With Work-Based Learning, high school students can work in their anticipated career field through cooperative education, internships, and /or apprenticeships, applying knowledge and skills from the classroom to real-life situations in the workplace.
Co-curricular student organizations give students an opportunity to fine tune their related career skills, further develop their capacity as leaders, and compete with peers to gain regional, state, national, and even international recognition. This month, schools will participate in week-long celebrations for a few of those student organizations, including National SkillsUSA Week (Feb. 5-11); National Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Week (Feb. 12-18); and National Future Farmers of America Week (Feb. 18-25).
Learn more about CTE in Gwinnett on the GCPS website. Happy National Career and Technical Education Month!