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Students Build Workforce Skills in CTAE

Students at Vidalia High School recently celebrated their involvement in a program that gives them a solid resource, adds to their essential traditional academics, and prepares them for their next steps after high school. Georgia’s Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) curriculum offers extra skills needed for college, stepping into a career, beginning apprenticeships, or entering the military. Depending on the school system, up to 17 career clusters, with various pathways within each cluster, are included in Georgia’s CTAE program. The national and state level Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) strengthen the CTAE programs by sharing resources and coordinating cluster specific student organizations such as Future Business Leaders of America and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. The hands-on classroom experience, and the partnerships with industries and higher education institutes, of CTAE is designed to build workforce skills in students so they may contribute to and thrive in the workplace. Partnerships in addition to class work include career fairs, job shadowing, mentorships, and business leaders as guest speakers.

Eric McDonald, Assistant Principal and CTAE Director at VHS, gave a big thank you to instructors Amy Gillies, Drones, and Anna Helms, Business and Technology, who coordinated the week’s activities. The staff at VHS and at the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) gave support in promoting the different career pathways. McDonald said, “We have the best CTAE staff in the state. Our collaboration with SECCA helps us provide additional opportunities for our students that could prove difficult otherwise. We are blessed to be a part of a school system that supports our programs and to have business/ industry leaders who partner with us, allowing for real-world experiences.”

During the week, lessons involved learning soft skills and career development. Soft skills include interpersonal skills, communication and listening, time management and empathy. These are skills that hiring managers say lead to more success in the workplace.

A “Get to Know your Pathway” activity allowed students to research their current pathway. Students choose a career for which to wear the attire for professional dress day. Teachers and students used social media, hallway posters and door decorations to highlight the various career pathways. Popcorn and a movie on a Friday capped off the week-long celebration. After all, social events are another way businesses build into successful workplace cultures.

Further affirmation for the importance of public school CTAE, student development and business partnerships was the signing of a Proclamation by Mayor Doug Roper. Mc-Donald said, “How cool is it that our city government takes such an interest that we now have a proclamation dedicating a week for CTAE? That doesn't happen everywhere and we know how fortunate we are.” Mayor Roper’s proclamation read, in part, that “CTAE educational pathways are vital to the intellectual and economic future of the city of Vidalia, state of Georgia, and the United States; provide training and skills that address the needs of in-demand industries; provide equity and access for all students; and that CTSOs are valuable tools for implementing technical and academic standards found in Georgia’s curriculum.” Therefore, the week of February 22 -26 was proclaimed Celebration of CTAE and CTSO Week in Vidalia, Georgia, “as the first collaborative project of its kind to promote the partnership between the city, school system, and business leaders.” McDonald would like to share the positive results of the CTAE program at VHS and welcomes “visitors, stakeholders and business/industry leaders to come see the things we are doing at VHS and SECCA, and we love feedback. As good as we feel about the current state of our program, we are always looking for ways to improve.” CTAE WEEK – Celebrating CTAE Week are, left to right, Amanda Mosley – FCS/FCCLA; Shellie Cleghorn – Healthcare/ HOSA; Amy Gillies – Unmanned Aircraft Systems Instructor, SECCA; Eric McDonald – CTAE Director/ VHS Assistant Principal; John Sharpe – Principal VHS; Vidalia Mayor Doug Roper; Kevin Head-Engineering/TSA ; Gray Meredith – Construction/ SkillsUSA.

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