The pursuit of a modern education is no longer limited by the boundaries of what would be considered traditional academic success. While spending numerous years in college to attain a degree and a better job is still a popular path, there are more options than ever before when it comes to finding professional success in life.
Over the past decade or so, the rise of technical education programs has brought about a renewed focus on understanding the actual needs of the nation’s workforce, and how the education system can address those needs.
Locally, Catalina Foothills High School is proud to be a member of the Pima County Joint Technological District, known commonly as JTED. Through JTED funding, the high school has been able to expand the amount of classes covering various technical skills.
“JTED funding is what has made this possible,” according to Jill Ranucci, administrator at the high school, who heads the school’s technical education programs. The classes are held at the school on a satellite campus
Catalina Foothills’ career and technical education courses, known as CTE, cover a wide array of professional skills. Courses offered include graphic design, photo imaging, media production, journalism, bioscience, chemistry, engineering and other courses.
Ranucci said there were limited CTE choices at the school during the 2007-08 school year, and the creation of JTED helped to introduce new and emerging programs for the students.
Each of the class selections are divided into one of nine different career pathways: journalism, media production, entrepreneurship, photo imaging, graphic design, theatre production, science-agriscience, science-bioscience and science-engineering.
CTE classes introduce students to possible career paths which could potentially apply the knowledge and skills they gain through core academic classes into real-life scenarios.
“We have successfully integrated our CTE classes with academic standards that exemplify the importance of a solid foundation of knowledge and authentic experiences to scaffold and apply knowledge into skills that eventually translate into career fields,” Ranucci said.
The CTE programs at Catalina Foothills have found quite a bit of success over the years. Students have earned state and national awards from various career and technical student organizations, including The National FFA Organization, HOSA-Future Health Professionals, DECA and others.
What the school has been able to offer has changed and grown over the years.
What was once the photography program was “enriched,” according to Ranucci, with the implementation of JTED, marketing and finance became entrepreneurship and media courses offer “a full complement of film and TV and animation projects.”
Once Arizona approved technical theatre and journalism as CTE programs, the high school was able to add corresponding classes to the roster.
In addition to funding through JTED, which Ranucci said has been integral to the success of CTE; courses receive money from federal, state and local sources.
Classes offered at the high school offer more than professional career experience, several of the pathways offer a chance at AP credit, as well as credit hours at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
What began as a group of just over 200 students has grown quite dramatically over the years. According to Ranucci, the CTE courses currently host an enrollment of 1,050 participants. Each of the young adults involved in the various programs are expected to perform just as well as any other Foothills student, and do so. CTE students graduate at the same nearly 98 percent rate as all students.
Education is widely considered to be a vital aspect to the economic growth and future of any nation in the modern world, and the diversity of educational choices allows the work force to grow and develop as the world grows and develops.
By offering its students more than traditional classes, Catalina Foothills High School is able to prepare its students for careers in many of the markets considered to be growth industries both today and in the future.