By Emery Lay
For the Opelika Observer
Auburn City Schools (ACS) Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program Director, Dr. Silvia Scaife, the director at CTE, detailed upcoming additions to the programs at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce’s Tuesday Talk on June 8.
“It’s my honor today to get to introduce our speaker,” said Elliot McIsaac, the current chairman for the board of the Chamber of Commerce. “Dr. Scaife holds a bachelor’s degree of science in elementary education, a Bachelor of Arts and Communication, a PhD in education in curriculum and instruction from Auburn University and a master’s in elementary education and teaching from Troy State University. She is here today to provide an update and share about the exciting things taking place in the [CTE] program.”
Courses being implemented within the CTE program are meant to help students narrow down what occupation they want to pursue before they exit high school. These opportunities will also result in articulated credit for each participating student.
“Everyone wants kids to be ready to take on the real world, right?” Scaife said to begin her talk. “So, our mission is simple: prepare our students, make them employable graduates and engage citizens.”
Prior to 2004, CTE programs were limited to business education, home economics, apartment living and vocational agriculture. Over the past few years, the CTE program has tacked on multiple new avenues of learning, resulting in 16 courses across three different campuses. This year, the CTE program became the 2021 recipient of the Chamber of Commerce EAGLE Award.
“Here it is our goal to increase the number of student credentials, making them marketable and employable,” Scaife said. “[Also] hire a full-time career coach, enhance community outreach, [and] increase awareness of articulated credit.”
Over the years, student credentials through the CTE program have steadily increased. In 2020 alone, 280 students from ACS received industry-approved credentials. In 2021, there were 392.
“In 2019, our graduation rate was 95.25,” Scaife said. “Our CRI [Criterion Referenced Instruction] rate was 81.14 … And how [we can] fill that gap is by tapping into the ninth graders … They’re kind of a control group.”
Thus, the Microsoft Imagine Academy was created to make an environment for ninth graders to learn technical skills in response to the industry’s need for more Excel users.
In addition, health science students were able to assist in the system-wide distribution of vaccinations this spring. Students in TV production consistently cover athletics, fine arts and other school events through live stream. Additionally, under the direction of Audrey Marshall, a work-based learning WIOA Grant has been put into place.
The CTE program has also connected with several other industry partners. These include:
• Habitat for Humanity for the building construction program
• The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services for the food, wellness and dietetics program
• EAMC for the health science program
• The city of Auburn and Southern Union Community College for the machining program
• Auburn University Robotics and Science Olympiad for the engineering and robotics programs
• Auburn City Schools After School for the teaching and training program
• AHS Athletics, War Eagle Production and WRBL for the television production program.
Though its partners are numerous, the CTE program is always looking for more. It currently is recruiting for sustaining partners in the following programs: Advertising design, animal science, programming and software development, army JROTC, business marketing, agriscience and restaurant, food and beverage services.
For those skilled in the art of public speaking, ACS gladly accepts speakers who desire to share their knowledge about their career in various targeted classrooms. Virtual career chats — recorded at the contributor’s leisure — are also accepted. Additionally, ACS is looking for more shadow experiences, pre-apprenticeships, faculty tours and volunteers to be outside judicators for awards, scholarships and recognitions.
ACS also offers ways for non-financial support in the form of “Partner with a Program”, within which there are various options. Partners may also wish to become a member of the advisory board for a program matching their career.
The CTE programs are also in need of financial support. Gift cards, company “swag”, industry awards, partnership with the annual award ceremony or sponsorships for the Student of the Semester Breakfast are all accepted forms of donation.
“We had one parent that actually said, ‘Just let me supply all the donuts,’” Scaife said. “I was like, ‘okay, that’s great’ … That’s a cost that we don’t have to cover.”
There is also a four-tier sponsorship avenue: Platinum sponsors donate $1,000, Gold sponsors donate $500, Silver sponsors donate $250 and Bronze sponsors donate $100. Each donation is made annually, though not restricted to that timeline.
All dollars that are collected are specifically designated for the annual CTE Awards Ceremony. This ceremony honors the outstanding students in the CTE program each school year.
Through these donations and partnerships, ACS can host a variety of events throughout the year, hoping to further its connections. For the months of June and July, there will be mini hiring fairs, extended by the summer FFA grant that ACS received. In August, there will also be a back-to-school event to welcome ACS students. Other events include a career fair in September, the Student of the Semester Breakfast in December and April, CTE month in February and Industry Award in May.
For more information, visit www.auburnschools.org. The program has also published an eBook, which can be accessed on Apple devices at: https://books.apple.com/us/book/career-technical-education-ahs/id1547297240. ACS is located at 855 E. Samford Ave. in Auburn. Scaife can be reached via email at email@example.com, or in her office at 334-887-2142.