CTE programs getting a face lift

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The Career and Technical Education department at Pocahontas County High School is going through several changes. At the board of education meeting Monday night, PCHS principal Robert Miller and business education teacher Cammy Kesterson gave a presentation on the new programs.

Miller, who was formerly the CTE administrator in Hampshire County, said he is taking cues from the business world to find the best programs to add at PCHS.

“One thing I’ve noticed as I look through [newspapers] – I look back through to see what positions are advertised and it’s always a lot of health occupations,” Miller said.

Miller proposed bringing the health occupations field to the CTE department. He explained that the field includes more than just nursing.

“The kids that would come through that program and finish it would be certified with a CNA certificate and they could go right to work in that field,” he said. “It’s not just for that, though. A lot of times, some of the really bright kids who are going on to be a pharmacist or a doctor, take that because you get a lot of background in the medical field. When they come out – even if they go to college and become an RN or pharmacist or whatever – they have a real advantage in having all that knowledge and background in the medical field and everything that goes with it.”

Along with the classes, students participate in an internship at a local medical facility to gain real world knowledge.
Recalling his former school, Miller said the program can be a confidence booster for the students who want to enter the medical field.

“When you see those kids that are in the health occupations program, they’re wearing their scrubs to school and they’re learning how to be professional,” he said. “It’s kind of neat and you can see they’re real proud of themselves.”

Miller brought the health occupations program to the board’s attention because PCHS recently lost it’s electricity program and he hopes to replace it with another program.

The CTE programs in West Virginia are taking a completely different route in the curriculum as a whole. All programs will switch to what is called a Simulated Workplace, where the students are treated like employees in the fields of business, agriculture, culinary arts, welding, carpentry and timber.

Kesterson explained that while the students leave school prepared to enter the workplace, they do not fully grasp the workplace atmosphere.

“Industry is wanting our students to come out of our CTE programs having credentials and being able to step into a job and know what they’re doing without having to do a whole lot of training,” Kesterson said. “With the Simulated Workplace, that’s how our classrooms are going to be transformed. We’re going to become more like a boss and a manager versus a teacher. Our classrooms are really going to take on a new look and new face.”

The West Virginia Department of Education will require all CTE schools to switch to Simulated Workplace by 2017. PCHS plans to start the program next year in order to work out any kinks before the required switch takes place.

“I think it’s going to be a little challenging for us versus a CTE center where the kids are shipped in and you have them all day long,” Kesterson said. “Our school, we might have them for one class this year and not see them again until a couple years down the road.”

Each class and program, will become its own business. Students will have uniforms and will be held to the same standards as they would in the “real world.”

“One of the regulations that we have to meet to get our program implemented is, we actually have to have time machines in every classroom,” Kesterson said. “The ones they recommend are thumbprint scanners, so when your kids come into your program, they have to clock in. When they get ready to leave, they have to clock out.

“The other hurdle that I think we may have is drug testing,” she continued. “We have to test forty percent of our students that come through. That being said, those students cannot be kicked out if they test positive on their drug test. It can’t be held against the student, but it kind of gives us a chance to maybe catch some of our students who are struggling and to work with them in our programs to get them clean.”

Throughout their career in the Simulated Workplace, students will have titles, like project manager and safety officer. They will also build portfolios which will follow them throughout their life.

“It used to be they had a test at the end – that was how we were scored and judged,” Kesterson said. “Now, they’re all creating portfolios and that gives them the opportunity to develop a working document that, when they apply for jobs, it will have those skills sets in there, it will have letters of recommendation, their résumés, everything. It’s a really useful document for their future employers.”

Another change the program will implement is how the students get into the class. Since it is following the business procedures of the real world, students will be required to go through the interview process before they can enter the class.

“Now, you’re actually going to have to go through an interview process just like you would for a job and be interviewed in order to be in that class,” Kesterson said. “I think that is going to be a little challenging with scheduling, but luckily we have this year coming to do our pilot stuff and try to work some of the bugs out of how we’re going to do things.”

Kesterson said letters will be sent to the parents explaining in detail all the components of the new program.

In updates:

• Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel shared rankings of the Pocahontas County Archery teams. Marlinton Elementary School members won the elementary division with a score of 2,911. Female winners were: first place, Macaden Taylor; second place, Haley Spencer; third place, Rayna Smith; and fourth place, Hanna Wall. Male winner was: second place, Max Ervine.

Marlinton Middle School members had a final score of 3,071 and placed fourth. Male winner was Devyn Young, taking fifth place.

Pocahontas County High School scored 3,143 points.

The next Archery tournament will be Saturday, March 14 at Pocahontas County High School.

Bechtel also shared a memo stating that all students and faculty members have the ability to download five copies of Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus for free. The free programs are part of a partnership between Microsoft and the West Virginia Department of Education. The program may be downloaded to PCs, Macs and tablets.

In financial management, the board approved the following:

• Payment of vendor listings of claims in the amounts of: $36,573.24; $27,046.37; and $80,229.52.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Laura M. Pritt as volunteer head cheerleading coach at Hillsboro Elementary School, retroactive to the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.

• Shannon Anderson as volunteer assistant cheerleading coach at Hillsboro Elementary School, retroactive to the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of Steph-anie Poppe, Leah Shinaberry and Christopher Sutton as Credit Recovery teachers at Pocahontas County High School, effective February 25 through May 8, as needed, at $20 per hour, two hours per day, two days per week, not to exceed $1,200 per position.

• Employment of Lauren Bennett, Dottie Chestnut, Karen Dunbrack, Karrie Jack, Andrew Myers and Anna Parker as substitute aides for Pocahontas County schools, effective February 25, or upon background clearance, as needed, for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year, at state basic pay.

• Employment of Dottie Chestnut, Karen Dunbrack, Karrie Jack and Andrew Myers as substitute cooks for Pocahontas County Schools, effective February 25 or upon background clearance, as needed, for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year, at state basic pay.

• Resignation of McArthur L. Buzzard as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to the end of the day on February 16.

• Resignation of Davina R. Agee, as half-time school social worker for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the day on February 27.

• Employment of Charles Benjamin Blakemore, Grazia Apolinares, AnnaLew White Barb and Paul F. Barb as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective February 25 or upon completion of the RESA Substitute Online Training Program and background clearance, as needed, for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year, at state basic pay.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Kimberly N. Shinaberry as half-time teacher of Title I at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Kimberly N. Shinaberry as half-time teacher of mathematics at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Davina R. Agee as half-time school social worker for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Ellen D. Fortney as teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Sarah A. Cover, itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Felicia L. Smith as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Rebecca A. Davis as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Reduction in Force, non-rehire of Stephanie L. Barkley as secretary II/accountant II for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

The next board meeting is Monday, March 9, at 7 p.m. in the board of education conference room.

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