By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes
On Monday, Dec. 17, a group of McNary sophomores took a visit to a showcase tour of the Career Technical Education Center (CTEC) in Salem. The showcase is designed to help students determine if they want to enroll in the school for half of their schedule during their junior and senior years.
CTEC has existed in the Salem-Keizer School District since 2015 with the goal to “prepare students for high-skill, high-wage, high demand careers while developing the skills, technical knowledge, academic foundation and real-world experience to assure their success upon graduation” according to its website.
“Our recruiting mission is to enroll the right students in the right programs for the right reasons,” CTEC principal Rhonda Rhodes said. “Our goal is for the students to experience the program in a way to determine if it’s a good fit for them.”
“By coming today, kids get to witness all of the aspects of our curriculum.”
More than 300 students made the trip to CTEC, which is located on Portland Road, and had the chance to visit three of the 10 programs that the school will offer for the 2019-20 school year.
Currently, CTEC has eight different programs (Residential Construction, Manufacturing, Welding and Engineering, Video and Game Design Animation, Auto-Body Repair and Painting, Drone Technology and Robotics, Cosmetology, Business Development and Leadership and Law Enforcement).
The two programs that will be added on next year will be Agriscience and Culinary Arts and Management.
Students chose two programs to visit and were given a third one to go to at random.
“I feel like that (CTEC) gives me a really good opportunity to do hands on work,” McNary student Alex Flores said. “It’s cool to come here and experience different stuff rather than sit in class all day.”
Offering hands-on experience in multiple trades is one of the many things that sets CTEC apart.
“I really enjoy doing makeup, hair and nails, so it’s cool to be able to do something I’m interested in,” McNary student Amber Barragan said about the CTEC cosmetology department.
Part of what makes CTEC unique is not only the curriculum that it offers, but also the fact that students are treated more like adults than kids.
For instance, instead of normal parent-teacher conferences, CTEC will do 10-week employee reviews. If students exceed expectations, they can be rewarded with a workplace bonus like a $100 gift card.
“We’ve seen our students really elevate to a level of professionalism,” Rhodes said. “We treat them as if they are already professionals in the industry and we mirror the workforce in everything we do.”
Katelynn Byrd was showing off that professionalism on Monday as an extension of her teachers.
Byrd, a senior at McNary, is in her second year as a CTEC student and spent the morning in the Law Enforcement class giving the visiting students instructions on how to properly attain a fingerprint.
“Most of us are planning on going into law enforcement for our careers, so (CTEC) is really giving us a leg up before we go into the academy,” Byrd said. “I get to use the skills I learn here in the real world.”
Rhodes knows what an asset CTEC can be for kids and, if it’s in their best interest, hopes that McNary students will strongly consider making it apart of their class schedule.
“We have really seen kids elevate their skills here,” Rhodes said. “(The student’s) success is our success and that is really what we fight for here.”