LAURINBURG — In Scotland High School’s Career and Technical Education courses, students are encouraged at an early stage to find a practical application for 12 years of education in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
With classes in health science, construction, and technology now offered with the goal of preparing students to pass professional certifications, the school is beginning to offer students the option of an education as technical as it is academic.
“CTE has always been around, it’s just in the last four or five years it has really advanced and the opportunities that are coming available to students have really evolved,” said Camille Goins, Scotland County Schools’ director of career and technical education. “The partnership with the community college has advanced and the offerings with College and Career Promise have given us the opportunity to offer more college classes to students and make that transition from high school to college more seamless.”
New this year are two courses providing ninth- and 10th-grade students with a thorough grounding in the career options available in the health and construction fields. In Kendra Farris’ health careers course, students rotate through modules offering insight into EMT and veterinary careers as well as the biomedical engineering, health information, and sports medicine fields.
“When you’re in high school you know about doctors, you know about lawyers and nurses, but you don’t see the other people,” Farris said. “So this kind of gives them an idea that there are other jobs out there. Biomedical engineering is a really big field right now because they don’t have enough people to work with amputees, but unless you’ve got somebody in your family with a prosthesis, you don’t realize what you have to go through to get a prosthetic limb.”
As a precursor to traditional courses in drafting and welding, Kevin Goins’ core and sustainable construction course offers students a glimpse of the high-tech elements of modern construction. Like the health careers class, the course is taught as a series of modules, and students learn the basics of masonry, plumbing, weatherization, solar energy, and electrical engineering, using environmentally-friendly materials and techniques.
“The kids in class actually search those career choices out,” said Goins. “That’s our goal for them: to be more conscious about four to 10 year plans for the future. We want to have it where the students are exposed to this and allow them to become architects and engineers. We want to have them equipped to do the high-skill jobs.”
Scotland High School offers 12 four or five-class career clusters that students may pursue throughout their high school careers. Camille Goins said that students can feasibly complete one or more clusters while also taking a full complement of honors and Advanced Placement courses in traditional academic subjects.
Senior Rasheem Crumpton, currently taking a Microsoft Excel and Access course, said that he hopes to earn a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification before graduation.
“I’m trying to get into the field of accounting and this will help me do the things I need to do to make accounting calculations,” Crumpton said. “With accounting there’s a whole lot of numbers and that overlaps with this class.”
Senior Christi Locklear continued to work toward completion of a business cluster despite a dramatic change in her career plan.
“When I came into high school I wanted to be a lawyer,” she said. “That’s changed, but to finish this career path shows that I finished what I started. I want to be a pastry chef and eventually open my own business, so this will help.”
With students following a path of specialization in high school, Scotland High School is now offering more courses in partnership with Richmond Community College. This fall, 77 Scotland students are taking RCC courses either on the Scotland High or RCC campus. That number is up from 17 in the fall of 2011.
“Our CTE program and our partnership with RCC are both moving in a very positive direction and we owe much of our progress to the willingness of the educators in both agencies, RCC and Scotland County Schools, to do whatever it takes to ensure student success in our schools and beyond,” said Pam Baldwin, Scotland County Schools assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “Our students have more opportunities than ever before to earn college credits, credentials, and certifications before they graduate from high school.”
With courses now leading to any of nine professional certifications, including Certified Nursing Assistant, ServSafe, and WorkKeys, Goins said that the technical education department focuses on high-growth careers.
“What we look at is what is the job outlook going to be and what is going to be the growth in that area,” she said. “We want to make sure that the careers we’re preparing students for are going to have growth, and that that growth is going to be in the community in which they live.”