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industry partners - CTE Month
Posted in , on February 15, 2024

Industry partners take CTE to the next level

Arlington ISD’s career and technical education (CTE) program is all about opportunities that set students up for real-world success. One of the biggest ways the program achieves that real-world component is through industry partnerships. February is CTE Month, so there’s no better time to highlight the district’s outstanding partners and the impact they make on students.

With more than 90 industry partners – from Bell and GM Financial to Prince Lebanese and LBL Architects – students get access to classes, instructors, practicums and internships that bring the real job world into the classroom and often take students out of the classroom and into the real job world.

“The Arlington ISD is fortunate to have so many impactful partnerships,” said Arlington ISD CTE director Susan Patterson. “These mutually beneficial partnerships ensure that education remains relevant, provides work-based learning opportunities, addresses the skills gap and prepares the future workforce. By working together, schools and industry can create a collaborative relationship that promotes the success of students, educators and the Arlington community as a whole.”

Access to real-world partnerships

Industry partners help introduce students to the job world and expose them to a variety of career options they might want to explore.

For Preston Murria, a freshman in the P-TECH program at Seguin High School, the school’s industry partner has him thinking seriously about his future for the first time.

“I’ve never really thought about what I wanted to do before getting to talk with professionals in engineering,” Murria said. “Getting to ask questions and explore my interests has been amazing… I love this opportunity, and I won’t waste it.”

The P-TECH at Seguin – one of four Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) high schools in the Arlington ISD – is all about just that. Each P-TECH has an industry focus and partner that support students in their career journeys. For the Seguin P-TECH – which is focused on engineering and computer-aided drafting and design – the industry partner is Bell.

Workplace Fridays at Seguin High School“Students engage with business and industry partners to foster a better understanding of the various career pathway opportunities and the educational journey it will take to get them there,” said Andrea Hicks, Seguin’s P-TECH administrator. “The connection with our partners will lead to internships and job opportunities for our students.”

One of the tangible ways that Hicks and her staff help foster student engagement with partners is through Work-based Learning Fridays. Professionals from a variety of fields visit with students, interact with them and offer insight into potential career paths. Most of the visitors this year have been from Bell, but there have been others as well, including Dr. Wendy Okolo, a NASA researcher who was the first Black women to earn a Ph. D in aerospace engineering from UT Arlington.

“The Bell Helicopter presentations have allowed me to gain a solid grasp as to what to expect once I am applying for a job in the engineering field,” said Seguin P-TECH freshman Michael Grooms. “These presentations have displayed to me what I’m required to do once I’m actually working on various projects within my community of colleagues.”

Real-world experiences and skills development

Seguin’s P-TECH is just one example of what is going on throughout the district at every high school and at two of the district’s newest facilities. In fact, relevant, real-world experiences are what the Dan Dipert Career + Technical Center (CTC) and the Arlington ISD Agriculture Center are all about.

The CTC is a state-of-the-art facility that offers juniors and seniors from all Arlington ISD high schools 68 CTE courses in 27 programs of study. The building features an open design concept that creates a college-like atmosphere. Then there’s the Agriculture Science Center, a net-zero building that gives any student in the district the opportunity to raise an animal and participate in ag education.

Many of the courses and opportunities at these facilities include industry partners who offer the students real-world training. From the fire academy to floral design, from cosmetology to health sciences, and from welding to animal science, students engage in practical learning that develops the skills they will need in their careers or future education.

“CTE programming is the catalyst in which students gain knowledge and skills that set them up to successfully transition to college, career or both upon graduating from high school through students engaging in relevant, rigorous and real-world learning experiences,” said Ginger Polster, the CTC principal.

Many students take practicums with industry partners – like veterinary clinics, restaurants and hospitals – which are designed to give students a supervised practical application of previously studied knowledge and skills in an arrangement appropriate to the nature and level of their experience.

“The purpose of a practicum is to provide students the opportunity to explore a career within their pathway giving the student an on-site observation and training experience,” said Kari Winters, practicum specialist at the CTC.

The experience students get through these CTE courses, practicums and internships are invaluable. Take it from a few recent graduates. Here’s what a few had to say:

Ryan Smith, Arlington High School Class of 2022

These facilities shaped me into the leader I am today with classes that built the foundation for my career readiness. Starting with prerequisites at my home campus, I was able to put forth my knowledge on agriculture into continued education at the Agriculture Science Center where I completed courses like advanced animal science, intro to floral design and livestock production, and later participated in the two offered practicums, Veterinary Assistant and Floral Design. In each of these courses, I obtained my TSFA Florist License and became a certified veterinarian assistant. The environment that I experienced at both of these facilities built my courage to find lifelong friends and make lifelong experiences. Since graduating, I have pursued further education at Tarleton State University to major in animal science, with scholarships obtained from these programs. I will forever be grateful for the AISD CTC and ASC!

Nick Ward, Sam Houston High School Class of 2020

The CTC’s model of industry-level instruction allowed me to set goals inspired by my personal field experience. Having learned specialized skills before pursuing higher education made room for me to explore the full breadth of my discipline.

Cameron O’Dell, Martin High School Class of 2019

The Career and Technical Center helped me get machinist and welding training that gave me the chance to do an interview with Lockheed Martin. I now have a job with Lockheed Martin that gives me amazing benefits and amazing work environment. The Career and Technical Center is what put me on the path for my future and I don’t know what I would be doing if I never took these classes. The staff helped me so much in getting my foot in the door in Lockheed Martin that I will always be grateful for this school and everything that they do.

Diana Contreras, Lamar High School Class of 2018               

I am a Mexican immigrant first generation college graduate, and I attended the Arlington ISD Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center in its first school year of opening in 2017-2018. The CTC has opened so many doors for growth and opportunity for me. At the CTC I was able to take a second-year course in architecture taught by Kari Summers … Thanks to Ms. Summers and her class I was able to land an internship at LBL Architects, the longest running architecture firm in Arlington, Texas. I got the internship as a sophomore in college and today I have almost four years of experience in the field with only having graduated in spring of 2022 from UTA with my degree. Ms. Summers and her class at the CTC has played a major role in my success as a college graduate and now as a professional in the field of architecture.

The real-world CTE opportunities offered to Arlington ISD students through the district’s outstanding industry partners is making a real impact in the lives and careers of students and graduates. Learn more about all the opportunities the district’s CTE department offers here.