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Celebrate CTE Month



During the month of February, students and teachers across our state are taking time to celebrate Career & Technical Education.

CTE in South Dakota

Career & Technical Education prepares all students to be college & career-ready. CTE equips students with core academic skills, employability skills & job-specific technical skills related to a specific career pathway.

In South Dakota, CTE courses are offered in middle schools, high schools, technical institutes, and universities. Students access courses at their local school districts, at regional CTE centers, and online.

Within CTE, occupations and career specialties are grouped into Career Clusters®. Each of the 16 clusters is based on a set of common knowledge and skills that prepare learners for a full range of opportunities.

CTE Superheroes

This year’s theme for CTE month is Celebrate CTE Superheroes! "CTE Superheroes" exemplify the value of career and technical education in a variety of ways. Though they don’t wear capes or fly, these teachers and districts are true heroes.

Learn more about these CTE Superheroes:

Jean Clarke, Bridgewater-Emery
Superpower: District Collaboration

Jean and her CTE colleagues have spent time completing a curriculum mapping project where they have identified ways to reinforce academic standards within their CTE courses. They also share with their students how the knowledge gained in their academic classes is specifically reinforced and applied in CTE.

Jean promotes CTE daily by sharing information with core content teachers via emails regarding opportunities and strategies that may fit into their content area. Jean also shares at weekly staff meetings various CTE information that may be helpful to all staff members.

David Reuland, Mitchell
Superpower: Industry Certifications

Mitchell High School's Automotive Technology Program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) as meeting the national standards for a secondary automotive program.

David’s students take a series of end of program tests that mirror the exams taken by automotive technicians nationwide. Eight different tests for automotive technician certification are administered by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Students receive a shoulder patch and a printed certificate for each of the tests they pass. The student’s certificate is good for two years and helps him or her in getting a job in the automotive repair field or in qualifying for advanced placement in postsecondary programs.

Todd County School District
Superpower: Expanding Student Opportunities through CTE


By offering a wide variety of CTE classes within the Career Clusters, along with foundational and Capstone courses, Todd County provides opportunities that meet the interests of many students. Students have the option to explore and develop skills in areas such as Restaurant Management, Digital Photography, General Service Technician, Building Trades, and Sports Medicine. Students also are able to earn dual credit through Project Lead the Way and Sinte Gleska University courses.

Ultimately, Todd County’s CTE programs prepare students for their postsecondary lives and create a stronger community workforce.

Elk Point-Jefferson School District
Superpower: National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)


The Elk Point-Jefferson School District challenges their entire senior class to take the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) exam each fall in order to assist students in developing an awareness of their current job skills. District staff promote the NCRC to students as a “point of separation” from other job seekers with similar qualifications during their college careers and beyond.

According to High School Principal Travis Aslesen, seniors at Elk Point-Jefferson have embraced the purpose of the exam, and they recognize the NCRC as an opportunity to both promote themselves and to discover what their high school transcript equates to in employability skills.

If your district is interested in the NCRC, visit the Department of Labor website.

Mike Rawlins, Northeast Technical High School
Superpower: Classroom Innovation

Mike implements a variety of innovative projects into his Project Lead the Way classroom to get his students excited about CTE.

Over the course of this school year, Mike’s engineering students have created a remote-controlled, pop-launching mini fridge to demonstrate how simple machines such as levers and gears can be used for many purposes. Mike’s students have also built a quad-copter (a device with four motors and blades like a helicopter) with the assistance of a 3D printer, and they will wrap up the school year by creating an automated doughnut making machine in order to demonstrate their knowledge of digital electronics.

Tracy Kern, Harrisburg
Superpower: Connecting to the Community

Tracy engages her FACS students in a number of projects that connect them with their surrounding community, and her innovative assignments provides hands-on experiences to fit a wide variety of learning styles.

This year, Tracy’s students and FCCLA members are working on a project titled, "A Senior Love Story.” With this project, students are interviewing couples who have been married several years. Students will create video biographies that highlight the strengths of the couples’ marriages and then air the videos at senior centers in the Harrisburg and Sioux Falls area. Another group of Tracy’s students are creating a Theorist Puppet Show about a designated theorist they have learned about in class. The puppet shows will be filmed and aired on the local CTE TV in Harrisburg.

Tracy also develops community connections by arranging various job shadowing and practicum experiences for her students and by welcoming multiple business &industry guest speakers into her classroom each year.

Deuel School District
Superpower: Work-based Learning


The Deuel School District has implemented the Senior Experience course since the 2010-11 school year. This course allows students to develop their own experience based on three options: creating a product (e.g. building a wind turbine), learning a process (e.g. writing a musical score), or participating in an unpaid internship for a career that would not result in a product (e.g. physical therapist).

Students make a proposal to the district Senior Experience Committee through a letter of intent at the end of their junior year. Students’ experiences then culminate in an Expo in March where they are judged by panels of community members in a science fair-type format.

Participation in the Deuel Senior Experience has proven to be beneficial to students. Highly competitive programs like the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at Lake Area Technical Institute have indicated to students that they were accepted into the program over others because of their Senior Experience internship.

Deuel’s 2014 Expo is scheduled for March 7, from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. in Clear Lake. If you are in the area, please stop by!

Bobbie Jo Donovan, Rapid City Stevens High School
Superpower: Leadership in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources


Bobbie Jo develops leadership skills within her Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources classes and FFA Chapter in a variety of ways.

Bobbie Jo started the Rushmore Leadership Roundup to provide her students with extra opportunities to practice their leadership skills. This event involves several area schools and provides students with a chance to participate in a local FFA leadership career development event before advancing on to the district level. Students compete in areas such as job interview, agriculture sales, and public speaking.

Bobbie Jo also hosted a National FFA Officer at Stevens High School who spoke to all high schools students during an assembly and led a leadership workshop for all AFNR students.

In addition to developing students’ leadership skills, Bobbie Jo works individually with students to assist them in career exploration and to help them make connections with the right postsecondary classes based on their interests and future plans.

Sturgis Brown High School
Superpower: Academic Integration


Staff at Sturgis Brown High School integrate language arts and math into their CTE curriculum in a number of coordinated ways.

All staff at Sturgis Brown High School have been trained in the 6+1 Writing Traits and Level 1 Journaling in Writing to Win (WTW). Staff members use a common writing rubric for essays and assigned papers. Every department is also assigned a WTW journaling day. The CTE department’s assigned day is Monday. Finally, every CTE teacher incorporates some type of writing assessment (essay/research paper) into their lessons a minimum of two times per quarter.

To incorporate reading, all CTE teachers use journal articles with reflection questions and class discussions. Additionally, some courses have specific readings they incorporate into the curriculum. The Career Planning/Personal Finance class reads several books, including 5 Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth by Richard Paul Evans and Fish! by Lundin, Christensen, and Paul. Each book has a series of discussion questions and a final activity.

For math integration, each CTE teacher assigns a minimum of one weekly math activity that directly relates to the topic being discussed in class. To develop these weekly activities, CTE teachers spent time during an in-service meeting with the math department to identify common terminology and to brainstorm math activities for various classes.

Joline Dunbar, Brookings High School
Superpower: ProStart


Joline, a FACS teacher in Brookings, is extremely passionate about and committed to the ProStart program.

ProStart is a program that provides hands-on learning in the classroom with a mentored work experience; the program provides education on culinary skills, safety, inventory, cost controls, customer service, business math, and other practical business management skills.

Through her leadership and training, Joline’s culinary team has placed first at the South Dakota ProStart Invitational for multiple years, and in 2013, her management team placed fourth at the National ProStart Invitational. A number of Joline’s students have gone on to postsecondary education for culinary arts and hospitality management and have been employed in places like Disney World and Colorado ski resorts.

Learn more about ProStart here.

Wayne Hansen, Hub Area Technical School
Superpower: Arts, Audio/Visual Technology & Communications


Wayne works to make the activities in his classroom mirror the real-world work place as much as possible. For example, students in Wayne’s classes spend time televising local sporting events. This experience prepares them to work side-by-side with professionals at South Dakota Public Broadcasting, doing camera work for state tournaments. This year, Wayne’s students have assisted SDPB staff with the State Soccer, Volleyball and Gymnastics tournaments. You will also see his students’ work on TV in a few weeks during the State Wrestling and State Boys B Basketball tournaments.

Additionally, Wayne is a certified trainer for Apple in Final Cut Pro X and he is in the process of helping Hub Area become a certified training center so students can take the certification test in their facility.

Pierre School District
Superpower: Promoting CTE


The CTE staff within the Pierre School District have come together with their students over the month of February to develop materials to promote CTE within their community.

CTE staff members drafted a press release highlighting the benefits of Career & Technical Education and shared it with the local newspaper.

Additionally, Information Technology teacher Bob Gill worked with his students and other CTE colleagues in making a CTE recruitment video. The completed video was posted on YouTube and aired on the local cable channel in order to help students and community members better understand the variety of opportunities available through the district’s numerous CTE courses.

Check out the video here.

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