When the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program started in Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), it was housed at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center and very much under enrolled, said Kimberly Hill, superintendent of schools. She was a vice principal at Stethem at the time and a member of the team charged with improving the rigor of the CTE program.
“The value of CTE cannot be overstated,” she said during a tour of program offerings at Stethem, and La Plata and North Point high schools. “CTE is where the rubber hits the road. Producing graduates is great. Graduates with skills? That’s even better.”
North Point High School — which opened for students in 2005 — was designed to be a traditional high school for students who live within its attendance zone and house CTE programs open to students around the county.
However, North Point is not the only game in town when it comes to offering CTE courses. There are programs — like Business Management and Finances, and Fire Science: Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute — in all CCPS high schools. Some students travel to Stethem from their home schools as members of the center’s programs.
“Too many kids on graduation day ask, ‘What am I going to do?’” Stethem Principal Curry Werkheiser said. “CTE kids don’t have that level of anxiety.”
Not that what students choose to study in high school is a clear path to where they will end up as adults in the workforce. “CTE is an exploration,” Werkheiser said. “Some know exactly what they want to do. Others find out what they don’t want to do — that’s just as important.”
Darrien Boyd, a North Point senior in the auto collision repair program, has been into cars all his life. It started with him watching his brother and cousins race cars. “They would always wreck and never knew how to fix them,” Boyd said. That sparked his interest in working on cars, which he found was something he enjoyed. In teacher Jeffrey Edwards’s class, Boyd is learning skills that will earn him a paycheck. “I don’t think of this as a job,” Boyd said. “I actually like working on cars.”
While Boyd sees himself going into the field of collision repair, Liliana Adamo, a junior in La Plata High School’s Project Lead the Way biomedical studies program, is being introduced to different fields within the medical profession. “It gives you exposure to different careers,” she said. “It’s not just about becoming doctors.”
From Oct. 23 to 25, eighth graders from the county’s eight middle schools had the opportunity to learn more about all the CTE programs during a showcase held at the College of Southern Maryland. High school CTE students manned tables and displays at CSM and talked about the benefits and rigors of their respective programs.
“When we talk about what we’re going to do, one person is doing this, someone is doing this. And I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Hannah Rogers, an eighth-grade student at Theodore G. Davis Middle School. “This [showcase] opened my eyes to different things.”
“It definitely broadens the field,” said Antonio Alford, a Davis eighth grader. Alford and his pal, Micah Gilbert, are interested in graphic communications and cybersecurity and went to North Point’s open house earlier this month to learn more.
Tameya Spinner, a sophomore in the CASE program at Maurice J. McDonough High School, said the older kids can connect at another level with the middle schoolers — student to student. Spinner has known since she was in elementary school that she wanted to study plants and animals. Enrolling in a CTE program is giving her a leg up on her peers when it comes to studying the agriculture field and continuing her education after graduation.
“This will help me get into college and I won’t be bombarded with information,” Spinner said. “I’ll have a better understanding of it.”
For more information about CTE programs, go to https://www.ccboe.com/cte/. The application window is Nov. 25 to Dec. 20.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.