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Middle School Students Receive Introduction to Career & Technical Education

This is a photo of a computer lab, with a female student sitting at her computer, male teacher looking on, pointing to the screen.What does it take to become a chef, an automotive technician, an engineer or a drone operator? SCSD middle school students are finding out!
In an effort to help expose middle school students to the 27 Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways offered in the SCSD – as well as the skills required to enter those pathways – this year, sixth graders across the District are participating in a new 20-week class highlighting those subjects.
Filled with hands-on projects, the course will expose students to all CTE content areas, various careers, and career ready practices. They will engage in career coaching, interacting with business professionals; and they will be encouraged to create a vision of their future, including setting goals to help them achieve their dreams.
“Career readiness concepts introduce students to topics like employability skills, teamwork, effective communication, critical thinking and goal setting,” Frazer Career & Technical Education and FACS teacher Debbie Abreu explained. “These skills are universal and apply to all careers as well as school success. Students have an opportunity to explore a variety of fields now so they can make an informed choice about high school, college and beyond. The CTE curriculum is especially important for middle school because it allows students to prepare a course of action toward their future goals.”
The sixth grade students started the year by taking self-assessments to help them learn about their learning style.
“I have learned many things about myself with the self-assessments,” Frazer student Michael Nguyen shared. “I learned that I am an auditory learner, which makes sense because I love music. I have been thinking of becoming a musician, a producer, a writer or a beatsmith, but so many of the [SCSD CTE] programs sound interesting to me! I think it’s very important to learn about career readiness, because after school, you need to find a career, and it’s best if you have the skills that employers want, like teamwork, communication, and flexibility.”
Frazer Technology teacher Howard Jones said that helping students picture where they want to end up – by way of creating their own vision boards – is a great way to motivate them through whatever they may be facing in the moment.This is a photo of three students standing in front of a bulletin board covered in posters featuring career ready practices.
“Students are really beginning to think about their lives in a way that's not so tied to the moment at hand, but their futures as well,” Mr. Jones said. “I believe that these vision boards are making the future obtainable for the students to some extent. The future is becoming less of a dream and more of an actual achievable goal, a plan. I heard one student say: ‘every time I get down on myself, I'm going to look at this to remind myself to keep going.’ This ultimately is the point of what we’re doing!”
CTE programs were separated into four clusters, which focus on the areas of computer science, medical sciences, entrepreneurship and industrial trade professions.
This year, sixth grade students will participate in a 20 Week class in a project-based career exploration and career ready practices course. They will receive an introduction to career readiness practices, take a career readiness self assessment, learn about professionalism, safety, communication and teamwork, set goals for themselves and explore the various CTE pathways, all while engaging in hands-on projects.
Lincoln 8th grader Marie Patrick has always liked designing and hopes to pursue fashion design as a career. In sixth grade, Marie was part of the first group of students to participate in a CTE pilot program, introducing her to career readiness skills. This year, she’s in Tavon Goddard’s 8th grade CTE class, which focuses on Computer Information Technology and coding. Marie said the focus on career readiness and setting goals has helped me better map out what her future will look like.
“When I was in 6th grade, I started sketching dresses,” she explained. “This year, I’ve started learning how to use code to build my own website. I always thought coding was for people who made video games – I didn’t realize how much I can do with it and how easy it is. I hope to go to college to study fashion design. After that, I’ll get a part time job designing. Once I’ve been there for a while, I’ll start putting my designs on my website, using my coding skills. It’s really cool because I didn’t think a class would help me this much. It’s getting me ready for my future… it’s a class that I want to be in and it makes me think about a world that I want to be a part of. I’m glad that I’m learning about CTE in middle school – it’s one more step toward my future and my dreams.”
Classmate Richard Schemichen, who has an interest in coding for a career, said the CTE class has helped him learn more about how to trust himself to persist through challenges he may encounter while working.
“I’d like to work as a game developer one day,” Richard said. “It involves coding, which we’ve been learning about. I realized – yes! I can actually use these skills for something! It’s much different than I expected. Coding is very useful – I haven’t gotten very good at it yet, but I’m trying my best and working slow. When I mistakes, I can recognize them and I know that it’s up to me to figure out how to fix them. I’m happy that when I enter my career, I’ll already know something. I hope that one day, I can get more into the gaming side, game design. Then, if I ever create my own game, I’ll feel pride that I made it myself, and that I put my own hard work into it. I feel confident that I can do it. More schools should have this. For a lot of kids, the average jobs that you can get without a college degree don’t seem like a good time. It’s sad, because they could be really good at something that could give them better opportunities. This class helps us figure out what those things might be.”
Lincoln teacher Tavon Goddard studied Computer Information Technology in college himself, after completing a CTE program in his own high school in Atlanta, GA. He said he is passionate about offering CTE at a young age because of the head start it can provide for students who plan to attend college – and the options it offers to students who may not continue their education.
“My model in the class is ‘road to success,’” Mr. Goddard said. “My students know the sky is the limit and they can be whatever they want to be. They want to be doctors, models, game designers, fashion designers. I tell them: we all have the same 24 hours in a day to accomplish things – they can use that time and achieve whatever they want. College isn’t always the way to success… you can do so much without college if you are prepared right. I want them to know there are options in case that path isn’t right for them. I challenge all my students, so they understand that as long as they focus, they can be successful.”
Starting next year, all SCSD seventh graders will participate in a 10 Week Class in Computer Science and a 10 Week Class in Entrepreneurship, while eighth graders will participate in a 10 Week Class in Medical Sciences and a 10 Week Class in Industrial Trade Professions. Upon completion, the eighth graders will receive one High School Credit in CTE, a Middle School Employability Profile, and will walk away with a more informed choice of CTE Pathways for High School.
To learn more about the Career and Technical Education programs offered in the SCSD, visit  
Anthony Q. Davis, Superintendent
725 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
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