Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Celebrating CTE month in Idaho

2023 Teacher of the Year

February marks CTE Month.  In many of our school districts the Career Technical Education student organizations commemorate through activities.  These students, like many, have been inspired in their search for what is next after their K-12 education.  Dr. Linda Clark, President of the State Board of Education spoke to this point in Mackay last October when she said:  “I have heard a lot about the “3 R’s”, but early on I recognized that there is an important 4th “R” that is the responsibility of educators.  And that is Reality—preparing students for the reality of life when they leave our classroom—with whatever pathway they choose.”  Our program areas ranging from Agriculture, Business, Engineering, Family & Consumer Sciences, Health Professions, and Trades—all prepare students for reality.

Oftentimes, the preparation for reality begins with an educator or mentor telling a student “You did such a great job on _______________, you really should consider a career in________________.”

This vote of confidence displayed by teachers and mentors becomes entrenched in the minds of students. It immediately places the student to consider a possible future for him or her.  This career suggestion from a teacher or mentor will forever be remembered beyond any other lesson shared in the classroom.  I imagine that many have received the same career advice and that they remember that moment well.  These suggestions represent a vote of confidence that a future does indeed exist for the student and helps the student to recognize options beyond high school.

As part of that task of preparing students for reality, emphasis is needed on preparing students for in-demand careers.  This is best accomplished by creating talent pipelines.

Talent pipelines can be large or small.  Developing them is achieved through a concerted effort.  In developing talent pipelines, the first hurdle is to understand the needs that exist locally and regionally.  State labor data serves as a great baseline for determining goals.

One development from Idaho CTE is the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment that is now a requirement for applying for Federal Perkins dollars. In hosting the first meeting in our agriscience classroom, I followed the guidelines and brought in administration, parents, the academic advisor, local economic development committee members, teachers, a College of Southern Idaho instructor, and a student that chaired the meeting.  Stakeholders discussed local needs and prioritized goals for developing talent pipelines.  These meetings effectively bring local and regional stakeholders to discuss preparing students for reality.  Without CTE, these meetings might not be happening in our schools.

CLNA meetings also illustrate one important principle that: pipelines of talent are thanks to People.  We need solid mentors and teachers to become talent scouts.  These pipelines bear fruit when internships, scholarships, and talent scouts from the local school, postsecondary, and industry collaborate.

Thanks to “Advanced Opportunities” our colleges and high schools are collaborating.  These collaborations are even more powerful when post-secondary is collaborating with industry.  As a dual credit instructor I made an early discovery that the College of Southern Idaho has the greatest grasp of the vision of dual credit possibilities and that they can be held up as a model.  Instructors at CSI show that talent pipelines are made because of people.

I am excited to see what recent investments in Career Technical Education and Idaho Launch will yield in the upcoming years.  These investments are driving the discussion on preparing students for reality.  Some of the greatest inputs into education comes from the expertise of those in industry.  This can be seen at the Dennis Tech Center in Boise where people have worked to create talent pipelines with Kenworth, Western States Equipment, and other local businesses.  Industries provide donations of equipment and consumables and they provide technical expertise to prioritize instruction of the skills that are in demand.

Education needs more volunteers and input from industry.  Great things happen when businesses and people ask what they can do for their local schools.

As a CTE teacher I feel like we are in the Golden Age of Career Technical Education in Idaho.  I hope that we can build on this momentum.  I hope to see more mentors and teachers take on the role of talent scouts.  CTE helps to serve one very frequently underserved population of students.  This population includes students from all demographics, backgrounds, and creeds.  This population is made up of kinesthetic learners—the ones who learn best by doing.  Idaho is one of the leading states in providing Career Technical Education to serve these students.  Happy CTE Month!


Trent Van Lueven

Trent Van Lueven

Trent Van Lueven a CTE teacher in Mackay, Idaho was selected as Idaho's 2024 teacher of the year.

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