You also need to make sure that there are post-secondary institutions in your area that include programs that match up with the courses you want to add, so that students can continue following their passions in a technical college, community college, or university.
- Research budgeting and grants
CTE programs are largely funded through grants – whether through the state, district, or nation. There are a lot of rules and regulations for districts and states, as well as at the national level. Due to the amount of research and time this can take, I recommend hiring a grant expert/officer who can take a deep dive researching grants to help fund your program.
If there is one grant I can recommend you focus on first, it is the Carl Perkins Grant. This is a big part of my job at Florida Virtual School, and one that is critical to getting your program off the ground.
- Partner with career and technical student organizations (CTSOs)
DECA, FFA, and HOSA. These are just a few of the student organizations that are available today. By partnering with these organizations, you are giving students the opportunity to grow in the field they want, as well as build soft skills that are critical to the workforce.
These organizations can also help students build their confidence and self-esteem by having them participate in competitive events at the state, local, and national levels. For example, DECA has a competitive event program that evaluates students in the career clusters of business management, finance, marketing, and hospitality and tourism through a written component, plus an interactive component with an industry professional serving as a judge. These organizations provide a great way for students to get involved and network outside of the online classroom.
- Never stop refining the program
Every year, you should look at your courses and program and do these steps all over again. That way, you are constantly making sure the courses you offer are helping students reach their goals.
For example, what if five years after you add a CTE course about accounting and microeconomics, finance jobs aren’t available? You will need to take another look at these courses to see if they make sense for the future of your students.
When I think about the importance of having a CTE program, I think of one of my students who dropped out of their brick-and-mortar school because they were struggling to keep up. He came to Florida Virtual School to finish high school and enrolled in my foundations of programming class. He became so passionate about programming through my class that it helped him finish school and get excited about his future.
Seeing that growth and excitement in students when they discover something they love is a feeling I will never forget, and one that we as educators should always fight for.
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