Lubbock ISD turning courses into careers through expanding CTE programs

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock ISD is preparing its students for the world after high school, through hands-on experience in Career and Technical Education courses.

The district offers 33 different programs, consisting of 133 courses, for middle and high school students to choose from. Executive Director Amy Baker says those courses make up half of overall offerings at the high school level. While many of courses are provided on campuses across the district, a third - usually the more advanced courses - are held at the Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center.

“From culinary, business management, plumbing, electrical, construction, in our trades areas, and then we offer things in Health Sciences. There’s really just a pathway and a career for every student,” Baker said.

Baker says the main goal is to help students be career ready, preparing students for high-skill, high-wage, high-demand jobs.

“So, we want them to be touching and building and creating and thinking and problem-solving, just like they would be doing in the real world,” Baker said.

Students are getting that real-world experience in the Health Sciences classrooms. Baker says demand is exploding for those positions in Lubbock. Teacher Cynthia Fourzan wishes she had access to classes like this when she was in high school.

“In these classes, they get hands-on opportunities to practice CPR training. They get to practice starting IVs or blood draws. They even get experience in taking EKG reports,” Fourzan said.

Teacher Brandon Grace says hands-on experience is a must for Information Technology. His students build and repair computers, create networks and program routers. Cybersecurity is a new focus for the program, what Grace calls a highly marketable skill.

“My favorite part of the job is really just being with the kids, and seeing the light bulbs turn on. As soon as they, as you start teaching them something, and then it’s something that’s a lot of times pretty complicated, actually watching them learn it and then them graduate, go on to do careers and seeing where they go is phenomenal,” Grace said.

Grace says one former student is now programming for Southwest Airlines. Baker says whether the future looks like going to a university, a junior college, or entering the workforce with a certification, there is a path for every student.

“So, it’s really cool. There are kids that are college bound, they know that that’s what they want to do. There’s some that are trying to figure out if that’s what they want. And there are some that don’t want to continue that at the moment, so these certifications allow you to get those careers right out of a high school setting,” Fourzan said.

Baker says Lubbock ISD is above the state average for post-program placement. Just 18 months after graduation, the majority of students are employed or in college.

“Kids that soon as they turn 18, employers are calling and they’re ready to place those students in a job. I probably field three or four phone calls a week from different businesses here in our community that are asking who’s ready, who’s trained, who can we hire?” Baker said.

Lubbock ISD works with community partners to monitor job demand and expand programs. One of the district’s partners gave the district a grant to expand its plumbing program.

“More community support, the better, and it gives these kids these opportunities that nobody else gets,” Grace said.

She encouraged community partners to reach out and get involved in the district’s Career and Technical Education programs.

“I just wish I could shout from the rooftops to help parents understand that what we do here matters, and that what we do here can benefit your child,” Baker said.

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