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Rowan-Salisbury Schools celebrating CTE Month in an unusual year

SALISBURY — Career and Technical Education National Appreciation Month is a time for public schools to recognize the career clusters made available to students.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools CTE Director Holly Pore said it is a time to bring attention to the department’s programs that provide experiences to students to help them prepare for their careers.

Pore said perception is the programs prepare students to go to work straight out of high school, but these days that is not the case. Some students may pursue disciplines that do not require a college education, but there are pathways for CTE students that lead them to two- and four-year degrees.

“They may go into the military, they may go straight into work or a combination of the three,” Pore said, adding CTE prepares students to join the work force when they see fit.

CTE used to be called vocational education, but Pore said the programs have been transformed.

“It is career education that is coupled with technical, modern skills to make students ready for modern work,” Pore said.

CTE gives students the chance to either confirm that their interests line up with a good career for them, or figure out early on what they do not want to do.

Madeline Kluttz, a junior at West Rowan High School, wants to pursue horticulture as a career. She developed her interest in the subject during her freshman year when she was placed in a horticulture class.

Now, Kluttz is heavily involved with the agriculture program at the school’s greenhouse.

Some of the vegetables grown at the school like hydroponic lettuce are donated to Rowan Helping Ministries and the school gives away baskets of fresh produce each week.

Kluttz said she likes the variety, how every season is different when you are growing plants and what you can grow like succulents at the greenhouse or unusual vegetables like kohlrabi. She also eats more vegetables now, taking home several heads of fresh lettuce each week.

She wants to take her interest in plants to the collegiate level. She hopes to get into N.C. State University.

One of the ways the district gives students exposure this month is through Groundhog Job Shadow Day, which pairs students with local businesses in their areas of interest to give them first-hand perspective. This year, the event was held virtually and there have been some other challenges as well, limiting some of the hands-on parts of CTE.

Gail Funderburke, who teaches principles of business and entrepreneurship at West Rowan, said quarterly field trips Future Business Leaders of America students would take to perform community service have not been able to happen. The national conferences and competitions those students have opportunities to attend were not held either.

“It has been very challenging,” Funderburke said.

Funderburke said these programs are important because they develop students into professionals. In her courses, students learn about business and skills necessary for anyone in the workforce, including how to interview, solve problems and manage personal finances.

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