The CTAE option is open to ninth- through 12th-grade students who are seeking career training. Approximately 3,250 Bartow County students are enrolled in a career pathway in either early childhood education, construction, business education, cosmetology, agriculture, junior ROTC, engineering, health care science, public safety, marketing, broadcast video, welding, culinary and consumer science.
Eleventh- and 12th-grade students in the work-based learning programs earn high school credit while working at either a paid job or unpaid internship relevant to their chosen career pathway. The goal of the program is to place students in work environments where they will expand their understanding of the knowledge gained through pathway classes.
Doss said, “Our students have a lot of potential. It’s a matter of tapping into that potential and making it professional to give these students not only an opportunity to learn job skills but life skills as well.”
Currently, Doss is in the process of assessing the state of the CTAE program and identifying the future progress of career pathways within the county system.
“I look at this as a three-phase process coming on board. I want to come in and explore and see what is currently going on, experience it and then take it from there and enhance it. So far what I have seen is that it is on the right track; it is a very vibrant program.”
Since beginning his new position, Doss has visited the pathway programs to observe the students, teachers and curriculum.
“Some of the bright spots in the system’s work-based learning are the [Bartow County College and Career Academy] and what that has done to foster the partnership of the community with education. The community gets to see the strength of what we have. The academy provides opportunities for students at the different schools in case their program of interest is not offered at their school. Each of the high schools themselves have very strong programs going on as well.”
One of the biggest goals of Doss and DiPrima is to develop a broader relationship with industry and businesses in Bartow County.
DiPrima said, “In order to grow the work-based learning program, my plan was to go to each of the high schools and to have a clear understanding of what is being taught at the three high schools and also the College and Career Academy. From there I want to sit down and match businesses in the Bartow County area with the pathways that we offer. My plan is to host meetings between the pathways educators and the businesses’ employees. The two entities can then coordinate to make sure what we are teaching matches the skills needed in business. The educators can receive feedback to see any possible gaps in curriculum. In hopes that the businesses see what is being taught and they are willing to help us place students in the workplace so they can have real-world work experience, they can take the classroom knowledge and apply it.”
Another aspiration is to expand the program so that a full-time, work-based learning teacher is needed at each high school.
“One reason I was excited about this position is because I see the potential for growth with work-based learning knowing the growth in industry that is here and is coming,” DiPrima said.
With the new focus on workforce development and career pathways, DiPrima said perceptions of post-secondary education are changing.
“The community is getting an understanding of the job market that is out there and not every job requires a four-year degree. There are excellent jobs you can get going through a technical school or two-year degree or diploma. There are so many skilled jobs available so there is a definite need for work-based learning programs.”