WyoTech and ASCA Partner to Promote CTE in Schools

October 25, 2017 | By Bob Burnfield

School counselors play an integral role in shaping the long-term educational path of high school students. From college entrance exams and Advanced Placement courses, to scholarships and financial aid, school counselors help students navigate their postsecondary options.

Therefore, it is critical that school counselors provide information about the variety of educational alternatives that are available to high school graduates. While earning a traditional four-year degree has become a common goal for many students and their parents, pathways like career and technical education (CTE) have their own set of benefits, which also help fill the skills gap facing our nation.

WyoTech recently partnered with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) at its national conference in Denver, Colorado, to educate K-12 counselors about the benefits of offering a CTE pathway to students who may have interests in specific trades or professions.

“One of the main challenges of college and career readiness is making the future real and accessible for students. Career and technical education brings the future into the present lives of the students and makes the abstract more tangible,” said Dr. Richard Wong, ASCA executive director. “The main purpose of partnering with WyoTech was to highlight what students can do now to accomplish their career objectives.”

In an effort to showcase the technical skill set acquired through WyoTech programs, students refurbished a 2007 Mazda RX-8 that had been raced in competition autocross to “like-new” condition. Not only were race components replaced with new street-legal parts, but the car was repaired and restored bumper to bumper including a new tri-coat white pearl paint job and a custom leather interior. After months of detailed work on the car, WyoTech donated it to ASCA, which gave the car away at its annual conference.

“This car is symbolic as much as anything. Its transformation represents how the student experience at WyoTech culminates in a really cool finished product—although for the student it is in the form of a new skill set and a chance for a new career,” said Caleb Perriton, campus director and academic dean at WyoTech Laramie. “There is a skills gap in America right now, and the transportation service industry needs bright young minds willing to take on the challenge to get educated and fill those positions in very promising and long-term careers.”

The winner of the car, Sarah Crist, is a school counselor in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina. Crist works with K-6 counselors to ensure students are prepared to be thinking about postsecondary education once they reach high school, including options like CTE.

“Too often, students and their parents think of career and technical education as a separate track from a four-year degree instead of realizing they are two paths to the same destination. In fact, the two paths often converge when students start in a technical field and eventually get a college degree or enroll in a technical school after earning a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Wong. “No single path is right for every student, so school counselors must help their students consider all possibilities and keep all options open.”

Bob Burnfield is the vice president of admissions at WyoTech.