The Year in CTE

The Year in CTE didn’t begin in September with the start of school, or in January, as the calendar reliably prescribes. No, The Year in CTE began on the third day of May, 2016. That’s when voters in Clare and Gladwin Counties had their say, and here’s what they said: “We’re with our kids.” Specifically, they were with the kids interested in skilled trades and vocational education, and the direction-setting, life-preparing curriculum offered through CTE was finally in a position to create real, lasting change.

That’s when our CTE program went from a whisper to a roar. Twelve months after liftoff, the impact of that election is only beginning to be felt, but the results are overwhelmingly positive. But don’t take our word for it - take a look at what these students have been up to and decide for yourself.


Criminal Justice

What do you get when you mix eye-opening field trips, three days a week of physical fitness, top-shelf guest speakers and an engaging curriculum? You get inspired students. Or at least that’s what first-year Instructor Jeff Erickson got from his Criminal Justice class this year. If you’re looking for signposts that this group was on task, consider that all 26 students passed the state-required NOCTI Criminal Justice test, and 16 scored high enough to earn a certificate for three non-articulated college credits.

This was on the heels of the group’s very successful trip to  participate in Delta College’s Criminal Justice Skill Day, where it took the top prize in the Quick Think competition, as well as another very respectable third-place spot, and great finishes among all participants in physical fitness for males (first) and females (third). Overall, the Clare-Gladwin CTE team finished first.

The group also spent several weeks studying the judicial system, culminating in a mock trial, complete with a judge, a defendant, prosecutors, defense lawyers, witnesses, a 16-person jury and a bailiff. (And, of course, a verdict - not guilty.)

Culinary Arts

Most experts agree that the universal language is love. But there’s a great argument to be made for food, and the students populating the Culinary Arts program have clearly made their choice. In this class, there are clear-cut expectations to earn food safety and allergens ServSafe certifications, which give these students a considerable advantage when entering the hospitality job market. The crew also once again performed very well in the statewide ProStart competition, earning high honors in the Nutrition, Knowledge Bowl and Table-Top design segments.

But the area where this group really shines is catering. Large groups and small, fundraisers and special events, board meetings and award ceremonies - all were made considerably more special because of the excellent food and service delivered by Culinary students.

Want to talk about going above and beyond? These catering events often took place outside of regular school hours, requiring special effort and care, a challenge these students met almost 50 separate times this school year. There’s no question this group possesses the dedication and skill necessary to thrive in the next phase of life.

Business Management

Sometimes, all an entrepreneur needs is a little push in the right direction. Business Management students were everywhere this year, with ten current or near-future students earning state certification and receiving Microsoft Imagine Academy Online training. But the place where these kids really soared was in work-based learning - a program where local businesses allow students to see how it’s done, up close and personal, short-term and longer. Those placements will go a long way toward aligning future employees and community-builders right here at home.

Education Occupations

When it comes to learning one’s craft, nothing compares to hands-on hours on the job. Time spent in training helped hone the skills Education Occupations students carried into their various classroom placements throughout five school districts. Several students also participated in the new ParaPro Assessment, a nationally-recognized credential that opens the door for students to become paraeducators down the road..

Digital Media

One of the valuable results of last spring’s CTE millage passage is the ability to offer more certification testing to students, and the Digital Media group benefited greatly from the opportunity.  CIW’s Network Technology Associate certification is a nationally-recognized industry achievement that demonstrates a significant understanding of networking. This year, more than 20 CTE students earned that distinction, with the promise of many more in the years to come..

Welding Technology

Now that’s a comeback. Welding Technology returned to the CTE fold this year as a dual-enrollment course in cooperation with Mid Michigan Community College. An enthusiastic new crop of students dove head-first into the much-missed offering, taking the opportunity to learn skills that apply to a wide-ranging set of job possibilities, many of which are ready and waiting right here in mid-Michigan.

Students also found time to combine the work with some fun, working on several different artistic projects for the regional MITES (Michigan Industrial and Technical Education Society) competition; in fact, seven students’ work was strong enough to compete in the finals against the best in the state.

Construction Trades

Community involvement is measured in different ways, but for Construction Trades students, their brand of impact is about as subtle as an 18-pound sledge. In Gladwin County, students started in September with a hole in the ground; today, a fully-built house (and home) sits in its spot. In Harrison, long-needed changes to a senior center finally arrived, courtesy of the saws, hammers and tape measures of the Construction students.

Along the way, 14 more kids earned their 60-Hour Pre-Licensure certificate for Construction Trades, nailing down a key component of practicing the trade in the future. Four members also took third place in the Regional Construction Competition, constructing a deer blind from top to bottom in four hours.

Health Occupations

It was a typical year in some ways for Health Occupations students - they learned the standard valuable curriculum that will open the door to careers in all sorts of health care fields. But something new was the establishment of the first-ever local Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) team. Through competition and collaboration, students learn valuable leadership skills for the job market; this year, 13 of 21 local participants advanced to the finals of state competition. That’s a great start that portends future success, in the program and in the students’ careers.

Automotive Technology

CTE is a hands-on endeavor - that’s what appeals most to its students. And you don’t get much more hands-on than in Automotive Technology, whether you’re one of the 32 local students earning Automotive Service Excellence certification or on a group field trip to Autorama in Detroit. The group also tackled a year-long project - completely restoring a 1986 Chevy pickup, a project that served to teach literally everything learnable about the field.

Advanced Integrated Manufacturing

CTE surveyed local industries last summer, and their directive was unmistakable: We’re in dire need of more machinists, operators and assemblers. With that in mind, we’re pleased that we’ll be offering Advanced Integrated Manufacturing & Pre-Engineering as a dual enrollment experience with MMCC beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

Is that all? Of course not. We ran out of room, so we didn’t mention our cool initiatives to help local pre-high school students start thinking about their careers - things like our much-beloved CTE Summer Camp, or our annual Career Day, which matches curious eighth-graders with local folks from all sorts of job markets. The good news is you can learn all about CTE’s high-impact work in Clare and Gladwin Counties by visiting our website at or by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll see you there.