CTE STATUS CHECK: Changes are already apparent

(CLARE) – Five months after voters approved a dedicated millage for Career & Technical Education students in Clare and Gladwin Counties, big changes are afoot. But even bigger improvements lie in the months and years to come.

Leaders at CTE and the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District, which oversees the program, provided some details recently.

“First and foremost, CTE enrollment is up almost 100 students, or 30 percent, for a total of 329,” said CTE Director Sandy Russell. “That’s a welcome increase, driven in part by our ability to restore Welding Technology and add Business Management, and also through awareness about CTE raised early in the year.”

The Welding Technology program has 26 total students in its morning and afternoon sessions, and Business Management has 15 in its afternoon session. Beyond that, an additional 60 students joined existing programs in comparison to the previous school year.

Other notable current improvements include a new hoist for afternoon Auto Technology students, whose class is housed at Gladwin High School; a new mobile computer lab obtained for Business Management students, providing the proper technology for their focus of study; a registered nurse who serves as the paraeducator and certification trainer in the Health Occupations classes; and new textbooks in several classes.

The upgrade making the biggest splash in 2017 will undoubtedly be the construction of a new building designed to house students in the Construction Trades program, who in the absence of a dedicated project have spent much of their time in the classroom working on scaled-down projects. That project will be especially meaningful because the students themselves will provide as much of the labor as possible.

“That’s going to be a big deal, both for the long-term advancement of the class, and for the immediate hands-on experience our Construction Trades students will gain working on their new home,” said CGRESD Superintendent Sheryl Presler. “We’re eager to get started on it, and we’re proceeding with a pragmatic sense of not only the immediate educational benefits to the Construction students, but of the long-term potential for that building to also house other high-demand classes, like Manufacturing.”

While students in the morning Construction Trades class are splitting time between their classroom and the work site at the John C. Magnus Center – the location of the new building – their afternoon counterparts are already well into an exciting year-long project.

“Our relationship with the Gladwin County Land Bank Authority continues to provide benefits to everyone involved,” Presler said. “We’re very pleased that our afternoon Construction students are about five weeks into building a brand-new home in Gladwin which the LBA will then put on the market. Our students will spend the school year gaining a wide variety of hands-on employable skills, and the LBA will be able to use the funds to continue securing new properties for future projects.”

Russell said staff and students alike are showing great enthusiasm for the upgrades to their classrooms and workspaces, and that the overiding feeling at CTE is optimism for what the future holds.

“Students are excited about the opportunities CTE can provide in their post-high school lives,” she said. “And there’s a real sense that CTE is making huge strides for our high school students in Clare and Gladwin Counties.”