Each year, thousands of southwestern Ohio students enroll in career-technical education (CTE) classes that lead to professional credentials in a career field by the time they finish high school. These students become nurses, aviation technicians, website designers, veterinary assistants, personal trainers, dental assistants, fire fighters, and more. Some take CTE classes in their own high school; others go to a regional career center serving their school district. About half continue on to college, often with credits earned in high school.
The research shows that CTE works. American high school students in career-technical education (CTE) programs are more likely to graduate, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Other studies show that those students are more likely to be satisfied with their education and earn higher wages when they graduate. Adults who earn shorter-term CTE credentials can out-earn bachelor’s degree holders.
“CTE students have an impact while they’re still in school, and they make our community successful throughout their lives,” said Great Oaks Career Campuses President/CEO Harry Snyder. He said that local experts, business owners, and other community leaders are graduates of CTE programs, including those offered at the four Great Oaks campuses.
- Area businesses see value in CTE. Over 1400 local leaders serve on Business and Industry Advisory Councils at Great Oaks, helping educators choose curriculum, purchase equipment, and share their knowledge with students.
- CTE instructors are required to be experienced in their fields. Computer programming courses are taught by accomplished computer programmers; practical nursing programs are led by veteran nurses; culinary students learn from local chefs.
- CTE students learn using the equipment and tools they’ll use in their career field. Aviation students at the Laurel Oaks Career Campus work on airplanes in a hangar in Wilmington; engineering students program robotic manufacturing equipment, and cosmetology students learn in fully-equipped salons at the school.
- More than 200 Great Oaks students are currently on placement in local businesses, practicing skills from computer repair to automotive refinishing while still in school.
- More than 90 satellite programs allow high school students to have unique experiences in Great Oaks classes without leaving their high school. For instance, engineering students in Project Lead the Way, a Great Oaks satellite program at Milford High school, have designed and built prosthetic arms, devices to hold hockey sticks and violin bows, specialized masks, and other equipment to help children accomplish tasks and do more in their lives.
- Cincinnati Zoo Director of Construction Management Gary Gilbert is a graduate of Diamond Oaks Career Campus. He’s one of 32 Distinguished Alumni of Great Oaks, a list that includes inventors, a fire chief, police chiefs, business owners, an Olympic gold medal winner, an Emmy nominee, and numerous educators.
February is CTE Month each year, and local schools use that time to share facts about career-technical education. For instance:
“Career-technical education is so much more than the vocational classes of the past,” said Snyder. “CTE graduates have professional credentials and options for great careers, pathways to college, and success in whatever they choose to do.”
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