This year’s Excellence in Action award winners, spanning 11 Career Clusters® from 10 states, represent some of the best Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the country. These high-quality programs serve a combined 1,500 students in communities ranging from rural Mississippi to the bustling metro area of Dallas, Texas, providing all learners– no matter their race or income – with a world-class education. While each of the programs is unique, they all offer a rigorous sequence of courses beginning with foundational skills to subject-matter mastery; real-world, hands-on experiences in the classroom led by dedicated educators; and meaningful work-based experiences facilitated by industry partners. The programs boast not only stellar industry partnerships but also with other educational institutions that support seamless transitions from secondary into postsecondary.
All programs are backed up by compelling data demonstrating impressive graduation rates, credential attainment, dual enrollment completion and work-based learning participation and glowing letters of recommendation. These programs are preparing their students for a lifetime of career success.
Arts, A/V Technology & Communications Career Cluster
The Graphic Arts program prepares all of its students for postsecondary and career success by providing rigorous in-school instruction and extensive opportunities for experience in commercial work environments and advanced laboratories. All students enrolled in the Graphic Arts program may earn college credit through dual enrollment, and over 90 percent of students earn an industry recognized credential. In an ever-evolving field, students benefit from instructors who stay connected to practice and integrate the latest technologies to keep graduates on the industry’s cutting edge when they enter postsecondary and the workforce.
Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster
The Culinology Program, developed through a partnership with Bergen County Technical Schools, Rutgers University and the Research Chefs Association, blends agriculture, food science, culinary arts and STEM to provide students with a pathway to postsecondary education and a career in an industry that’s booming in New Jersey. What began as a culinary arts program years ago has evolved into a program serving students with aspirations to continue their education in food science at a four-year institution. Given 100 percent of students graduate, earn postsecondary credit and enroll in college, this program is serving its students well.
Education & Training Career Cluster
The Education Career Academy allows students to explore the field of education and prepare for college while still in high school. Students complete a sequence of demanding academic courses and an internship to earn 30 college credits at Metropolitan Community College and University of Nebraska – Omaha. Through strong partnerships with postsecondary education and industry, this program places students directly in schools and classrooms in need of talented professionals, and is a unique model of a “grow your own” strategy for building a pipeline of future educators.
Government & Public Administration Career Cluster
Serving majority low-income, minority and English-language learners, the Shea Government and Public Administration Academy offers rigorous coursework in combination with an extensive internship program, as well as hands-on learning experiences from registering voters to working in federal, state and local government offices. The Academy serves an area with a large population that speaks Portuguese-based Cape Verdean Creole – a dialect into which very few governmental resources are translated. Students have worked on a variety of projects developed specifically for this population to better connect them with services available in the community. Last year, all students participated in work-based learning, graduated high school and earned an industry-recognized credential.
Hospitality & Tourism Career Cluster
The School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality delivers specialized curricula, real-life experiences and dual credit opportunities through partnerships with industry partners and local colleges. Housed in the epicenter of the Dallas, Texas, metro area, students participate in job shadows, internships and work in unique work-based learning environments from five-star hotels to local restaurants. Students are mentored by some of the leading hospitality and tourism professionals in the country.
Health Science Career Cluster
The Emergency Medical Technology (EMT) program trains EMTs and paramedics to become knowledgeable health care providers through strong relationship with secondary education schools and industry, which ensures a seamless pathway across systems. Located in a rural community, the program is critical to providing pipeline of qualified healthcare professionals, and has emerged as one of the top programs in the south, boasting a 90 percent first-time pass rate on the National Registry of EMTs, compared to a national average of 60 percent.
Information Technology Career Cluster
What originated more than 15 years ago as a computer repair class has transformed into a state-of-the-art cybersecurity program. The Network Engineering Program at Summit Technology Academy brings together students from 24 urban, rural and suburban high schools to engage in a specialized program only available through a shared campus. Students who complete the program in their junior year can choose to participate in the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), which allows them to begin to earn a bachelor’s degree while still in high school, while also participating in extensive paid internship opportunities.
Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security Career Cluster
Based in the Milton Hershey School, a private, cost-free, co-residential school and home for children from lower-income families, the Law, Public Safety, and Security Career Pathway teaches students about law and law enforcement careers throughout their four years of high school. Real-life experience in a courtroom and forensics lab enhance classroom instruction, and industry partners regularly teach lessons and serve as mentors. Last year, all students graduated high school, earned an industry-recognized credential, earned dual enrollment credits, and 95 percent continued on to college.
Manufacturing Career Cluster
Launched in 2013 and located in suburban Tennessee, the Mechatronics program prepares students for high-demand careers through hands-on experiences, rigorous academic coursework, nationally recognized certifications and dual enrollment opportunities. Beginning through a partnership with Oakland High School, Bridgestone and the Manufacturing Leadership Council, industry led the charge to build a talent pipeline of qualified employees in a highly in-demand sector. Upon completion of this program, students are armed with credits and certifications and poised to enter postsecondary education and the workforce.
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Career Cluster
The Academy of Engineering, which serves predominantly low-income and minority students in a rural setting, pairs rigorous coursework with meaningful work-based learning experiences in the engineering sector. Last year, all students graduated high school, participated in work-based learning and earned an industry-recognized credential. Ninety-five percent enrolled in postsecondary education through a supported pathway to California schools.
Transportation & Logistics Career Cluster
The Automotive Technology program, spearheaded by industry leaders to grow a talent pipeline in a critical industry in the area, features a unique project, ON TRACK STEM, which brings together students across career clusters to rebuild and eventually race an elite race car. Not only do students gain incredible hands-on experience –such as managing the budget, leading teams of their peers and applying the technical aspects of rebuilding an entire car – they also work closely with industry partners throughout the project, giving them a professional network and a leg up on their career.