Magazine article Techniques

CTE Month[R] School Visit Demonstrates Value of CTE

Magazine article Techniques

CTE Month[R] School Visit Demonstrates Value of CTE

Article excerpt

THE STAFF AT THE ASSOCIATION or Career and Technical Education (ACTT) not only organizes CTE Month[R] and encourages ACTE members and career and technical education (CTE) professionals across the country to open their doors and engage in outreach with the community, but they also "walk the talk: too, by visiting a CTE school in the Washington. D.C., area. This past February, ACTE stall and partners from the Cisco Networking Academy and the Department of Education's Office of 'Vocational and Adult Education toured McKinley Technology High School, located in Northeast Washington, D.C.

McKinley Tech originally opened in 1901 as a technical high school. It has a long, rich history in the community, including serving as a training school for returning vets following World War II. The school closed briefly in the '90s and reopened in 2004, and its primary focus today is on science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) curricula, as well as broadcast communications. With over 600 students, not only does McKinley Tech boast national recognition for its accomplishments. including receiving the National Blue Ribbon Award in 2012, but it also outpaces the majority of secondary schools in the District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) system, with McKinley Tech's students attending four-year colleges at a higher rate than students from the average DC PS high school.

Seeing Students in Action

The school visit began in the morning, with ACTE staff and guests meeting the school's staff, including Gideon Sanders, director of internships and partnerships; Principal David Pinder: and Fran McCabe, director of admissions. McKinley Tech is a comprehensive STEM school, and as a specialized school in DCPS, students must submit an application and be accepted in order to attend. As part of the recruitment process, McCabe and Pinder visit area middle schools to talk about the opportunities at McKinley Tech, and they spoke about this on our visit. Most of the students that ACTE staff encountered during the tour had either transferred into McKinley Tech after a year at another school, or had started as freshmen at McKinley Tech.

McKinley Tech offers concentrations, or "strands," including engineering, mass media, biotechnology and information technology. Students choose a strand to focus their studies on. Exposure to real-world work situations and industry-standard equipment is a priority at McKinley, and partnerships with corporations like Lockheed Martin and industry groups like the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEN DC Chapter make these opportunities possible for students. During our tour, student Curtis McNeill talked about his recent internship with Cisco and trips to Lockheed Martin facilities. McNeill felt the internship and site visits gave him the advantage over his peers in helping him discover his passion for biotechnology, and so he chose to pursue that field. All the students participating in the tour are on their way to postsecondary programs, international studies or working their way into a field through the help of their experiences at McKinley.

ACTE staff visited classrooms in each strand. Students worked independently or in teams, and almost always in hands-on settings in each classroom. In a course titled "Engineering Development and Design," senior-level students were working on independent projects. …

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