CTE Bringing Districts and Employers Together

School districts around South Dakota are partnering with employers to implement modern, high quality Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

“These strong, sustainable partnerships are proving to be successful by informing classroom instruction and providing students with real-world connections,” Assistant Director of Secondary CTE Erin Larson said.

Employer partnerships show students the value of career skills and open their eyes to a wide range of careers, engaging them in their education and preparing them for college and careers. In fact, South Dakota students who participate in two or more credits of CTE graduate at a rate of 97 percent compared to the statewide average for all students of 84 percent.

Business partnerships come in various shapes and sizes.

In the Burke School District, the high school has partnered with Community Memorial Hospital to share an employee. A medical lab technician works part-time at the hospital and part-time at the school district teaching Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science courses.

The hospital holds the employee’s full‐time contract and the district pays the hospital for a portion of the instructor’s time. This partnership allows students to network with an instructor experienced in the healthcare industry and the hospital has the opportunity to develop potential future employees.

At Madison Central High School, the high school has partnered with numerous businesses in the community in order to offer additional coursework to students.

Gehl Manufacturing has opened their factory space to students; veteran employees teach students how to weld. The Golden Living Center, a local nursing home, provides students with the opportunity to earn their CNA certification.  Students take online coursework at the high school and complete their clinical at the nursing home.

In both instances, if students successfully complete the course, they can also earn dual credit from Lake Area Tech and get a jump start on their college education.

The Meade School District has had a long history of positive relationships with business and industry through a well-established student internship program. The district was able to draw from these industry relationships to develop a new course with real‐world work experiences.

Through the Sturgis Economic Development Corporation, space in an incubator building was made available to house a high school machining class. During this class, students have the opportunity to work side-by-side with other business start-ups in the community as well as develop skills that meet the needs of employers in Sturgis and surrounding communities in the Northern Black Hills.

In McIntosh, the Hospitality & Tourism program provides students with opportunities to network with industry professionals, earn industry certifications, and engage in entrepreneurship experiences.

Based on their geographic location, access to a restaurant setting is limited.  As such, ProStart students provide a service to the community by operating a restaurant in the McIntosh city hall. Students use technology to coordinate with mentor chefs in other states and often fly in food from across the country for special events.  In addition to the restaurant, the young entrepreneurs also operate a Coffee Shop twice a month where they learn the financial and business aspects of running a restaurant.

In Platte-Geddes, the Agriculture program recently received a Workforce Education Grant from the South Dakota Department of Education to renovate their lab space and expand opportunities for students related to welding and metal fabrication.

Through the planning stages of the project, the district worked closely with Meyerink Farm Service to determine the best equipment, materials and layout for the lab. Additionally, Meyerink Farm Service employees have spent time in the classroom training students on the new equipment.

The district has noted that the students may not always want to listen to their teacher, but when someone who is in the job teaches, the students tend to be fully engaged.

If your district is interested in increasing student engagement through strong business partnerships, consider applying for a Workforce Education Grant.  Workforce Education Grants provide up to $2.5 million to South Dakota public school districts annually to make transformative changes in career and technical education programs.

These grants are awarded through a competitive submission and review process. As such, applicants are expected to make significant improvements to CTE programs; applications should not be one-off projects for small equipment purchases, teacher training, or similar activities. Additional information about the Workforce Education Grant program is located at http://doe.sd.gov/octe/weg.aspx.

To learn more about Career in Technical Education in South Dakota in general, visit http://doe.sd.gov/octe/documents/CTE-facts.pdf.