The innovative district where career prep is the only focus

A look at technology’s role in 21st century career and technical education with Dr. Nivea Torres of the Connecticut Technical High School System

nivea-torresDr. Nivea Torres has held a variety of roles during her 23 years as an educator, from teacher, to bi-lingual coordinator, to elementary school principal. The variety of experience likely comes in handy as she juggles the various moving parts in her current role as Superintendent of the Connecticut Technical High School System, a rather unusual district. CTHSS is actually a statewide system of 17 technical high schools, an alternative education center, and two adult schools of aviation, funded in full by the state of Connecticut.

“I was drawn to this district because I was very intrigued by this model of instruction,” explained Torres. “It’s a very project-based approach to learning that’s very different from the traditional model of lesson delivery and instruction that students receive at comprehensive high schools.” The district is career-focused, with 33 career pathways for more than 10,000 students.

eSchool News recently sat down with Torres to find out more about her experience at the helm of CTHSS, and technology’s role in the technical high school setting.

eSchool News: As an educator, what is it about the career prep model that excites you?

Dr. Nivea Torres: I think as an educator, we want students to graduate with a strong academic background, and at the same time to have problem-solving team-building communication and competitive skills, and I clearly see that this model really works for kids. We have a lot of kids who are a testament to that who are very successful entrepreneurs now.

eSN: Is it common for your students to go straight into the work force or into business for themselves?

Torres: Over a third of our graduates are gainfully employed, and over 50 percent of them go into some form of higher ed. I think that’s a testament to the work we do here. Our core vision is to provide that world-class career and technical education. It’s very different from a career and technical education class at a local district where you explore career options. Our goal is to make sure that kids are gainfully employed. We work very closely with the department of labor. So this is an occupational program versus a non-occupational program.

Next page: Technology at the career prep level

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