CTE Jump Start

Students get jump start in trades, careers
Posted on 02/03/2020

ESCANABA — The Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offers high school students instructional programs to advance the students’ career choice while in high school. Most CTE programs offer early college credit opportunities to provide a smooth transition for the student into post-secondary education.

“CTE gives them an educated choice of career after high school, and during high school gives them direction,” said CTE Principal Trent Bellingar. “When I was in high school, no one really pushed for CTE … CTE classes were for kids who weren’t going to do anything with their lives, and now we’ve completely shifted 100 percent. CTE kids are kids who have their plans in order.”

CTE prepares students with the necessary academic, technical, and work behavior skills to enter into the career of their choice. There are students who work with off-site employers and receive hands-on training.

“We like to mirror what is out in the industry,” said Bellingar. “… and provide students base skills employers are looking for. For instance, we are incorporating basic diesel skills in the automotive courses.”

The DSISD CTE has two campuses, one in Escanaba and one in Manistique. On the Escanaba campus, students from Bark River-Harris, Escanaba, Gladstone, Hannahville, Mid Pen, Rapid River, and Carney school districts have a choice of eight career clusters to choose from. The career clusters in Escanaba are Careers in Education, IT Essentials, Product Design and Development, Machining, Building Trades, Automotive, Health Occupations, and Welding.

Deborah Prescott | Daily Press Gabe Wagner, left, changes a drill bit after reading a blueprint while Ryan Moreau waits to assist in drilling the next hole in a trailer hitch. DSISD offers a Career and Technical Education program to students in high school at two campuses, Escanaba and Manistique.

Instructors on the Manistique campus teach students from Manistique and the majority of Big Bay de Noc students signed up for CTE. Manistique courses include Welding, Automotive, Health Occupations, and Building Trades.

“Five years ago we restarted the construction trades program. It’s the biggest course,” said Bellingar. “A state inspector actually goes to a worksite and inspects the students’ work. They do all the parts of building a house … plumbing, electrical, drywall…”

All CTE instructors must have a minimum of 4,000 hours experience in the field they teach.

“Having teachers with on the job experience adds credibility to the subject matter and allows teachers to pull from their work experience to help students,” Bellingar said.

DSISD received a state grant of $180,000, and used the money to triple the number of machines in the machining shop.

Deborah Prescott | Daily Press Gabby Beauvais, an Escanaba senior, practices welding at school recently. Welding Technology is one of many courses available at the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) on the Escanaba campus. Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a program DSISD offers high school students to advance their careers by studying hands-on. Students learn skills in a specific career group from teachers who have worked a minimum of 4,000 hours or more in the profession they are teaching.

“It’s a beautiful shop, there’s nothing like this in a high school educational setting,” said Bellingar. “It’s a nice bright shop.”

Bellingar admits not as many students sign up for the machining class because most people are unsure of what it is.

“Students learn the basic information they need to survive in the machining industry,” said DSISD Machine Tool Technologies Instructor Darrell Mullins Jr. “They start out learning manual machines and take that knowledge and carry it into CNC machining. The new machines help a lot with this step. They get hands-on learning instead of just book learning.”

Bellingar said students do not need to take a prerequisite before enrolling into the introductory classes. The instructors make sure everyone receives the same information and start on the same baseline. CTE plays to the student’s strengths of learning hands-on.

Ninth through 12th graders can review their Educational Development Plan with their guidance counselor to see if CTE is advantageous for their career path. Bellingar said they do pay attention to what students enroll in.

“If their career is heading toward building trades and they’re taking health occupations, why is that,” said Bellingar. “We have those conversations … but it’s up to the local counselors to give us kids, and we trust them … they know the kids best.”

Eleventh and 12th grade students usually take two-hour classes. Morning course runs from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m., and afternoon courses go from 12:25 to 2:25 p.m.

Introductory courses last an hour and run from 10:50 to 11:45 a.m. The introductory course for any career cluster gives the student the basics to decide if they want to continue or not.

“Typically local schools have a tough time finding room in the ninth graders schedule to give them a two hour block for CTE, so we mainly teach 10-12 graders,” said Bellingar.

CTE is seen as an elective to local schools. Students have to apply for a waiver from the state because the hour ride to the ISD building is non-instructional time, except the Escanaba school district.

“There is some loss for them coming over here, but then again we leave it up to the counselors and local administrations to decide if it is a right fit for the kid. If it’s the right fit for the kid, they feel it’s more beneficial for them to take our classes instead,” Bellingar said.

Approximately 60 employers from Delta and Schoolcraft counties attend two meetings a year and advise Bellingar and his staff of courses they would like students taught and what courses can stop.

“We have to have advisory committees made up from the community, industry members, post education members,” said Bellingar. “Employers tell us what they need their employees to know. ‘Show up and be able to learn…we can train them the rest of the way’.”

The state did a comprehensive local needs assessment of the area and reported the information found. According to Bellingar, the courses taught at the ISD are needed locally.

Students have different paths after high school, military, college, or directly into the workforce. Those students that know what they want to do benefit greatly in the CTE program.

“They have that drive and vision of what they want to learn,” said Bellingar.

Escanaba senior Gabby Beauvais takes welding classes through the CTE program and will continue in the welding program at Bay College after graduating from high school.

“I got into welding because it really looked fun and I absolutely love it now,” said Beauvais. “I am going to Bay College for welding during the fall to get the rest of my certifications.”

Students can receive articulated credits through CTE that apply to courses at Bay College. A student has to have a C or better in their CTE class and 80% or better attendance, to get recommend to Bay.

“Kids do amazing here,” said Bellingar. “We don’t ever want students to say, no one told me I could do that for a living … that’s kind of our goal. We want to create our own employees who want to stay here. We can help with that.”