Administrator’s Corner: February is CTE Month

Published 9:59 pm Friday, February 1, 2019

Administrator’s Corner by John Double


As a month, February has many designated causes it recognizes and celebrates. Some more commonly known designations are American Heart Month, National Dental Month, National African-American History Month and National Women’s History Month. A less known designation impacting workforce needs in our communities includes February as Career and Technical Education Month. So what is CTE? How does it relate to STEM and/or STEAM education? What do they have to do with a student’s education and career goals?

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According to the Association for Career & Technical Education, “Career and technical education, or CTE, is education that directly prepares students for high-wage, high-demand careers. CTE covers many different fields, including health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, hospitality and management and many more.”

“CTE encompasses many different types of education, from classroom learning to certification programs to work-based learning opportunities outside the classroom,” according to the ACTE website. 

Our schools offer many classes under these categories to help students explore and develop their interests in these career areas and more. 

The Minnesota Department of Education defines STEM education in the following way: “STEM education provides intentionally designed and linked learning experiences for students to develop and apply understandings of science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts and processes,” according to the MDE website. 

This term is sometimes seen as STEAM with the “A” encompassing the area of art as well. These co-curricular lessons and activities involve the combination of multiple subject areas to increase the learning of the material by students including the application of the students’ learning.

CTE courses and STEM lessons focus on using multidisciplinary approaches and applying student learning. There is a misconception that CTE courses are job training vs. education. There is also a misconception that manufacturing work is dirty and consists of “assembly line” work. Both of these misconceptions are just that — misconceptions. CTE courses apply learning in real-world scenarios. Students can read about how electric current runs through a circuit, however, CTE courses and STEM lessons apply that learning in a hands-on format. Many manufacturing facilities today are drastically different than the manufacturing facilities of 50 to 100 years ago. Many use high-tech machines in clean environments and use computer programming and robotics engineering to compete internationally in the world market.

During CTE Month, take some time and really look at what our schools are doing with career and technical education. There are thousands of high-demand, high-wage positions open in Minnesota with that number projected to increase dramatically over the next decade. Albert Lea Area Schools offer many classes in a wide variety of career fields for students to explore. We are in the process of creating clearer career pathways for students and helping define what classes and experiences will better prepare students for their careers and lives. We are continuing to build partnerships with our local business community to enhance programming and to provide students a real-world context for learning. CTE courses, STEM lessons and partnerships with our local business community and higher education create the best scenario for preparing students for the careers of today and tomorrow.

John Double is an administrator on special assignment for Albert Lea Area Schools.