Prairie Grove principal talks career technical education courses

PRAIRIE GROVE – Prairie Grove High School has increased the emphasis on courses in career technical education (CTE), and student participation in these classes has gone up by 20% during the past five years.

Principal Jed Davis admits that one reason for the increased enrollment is that now ninth-graders are required to take at least one CTE course, but at the same time, this is providing new opportunities for students, he said.

“It looks a little different from when you went to high school and I went to high school,” Davis said as he gave an overview of the CTE program at the March 15 School Board meeting.

In 2017, 662 high school students were enrolled in a CTE course. This increased to 799 for the 2021-22 school year, he said.The numbers also have grown, he said, because many students are taking more than one CTE course.

Courses in career technical education include agriculture, computer science, Project Lead the Way, family and consumer science, certified nursing assistant and business classes.

Davis gave some highlights of the school’s program.

Family and consumer science is one of the most popular courses at the high school. Davis said the school added another teacher this year and that has helped with enrollment. The course has gone from 143 students in 2017 to 222 for the 2021-22 school year.

The school has a 100% passing rate for its students taking courses to become a certified nursing assistant.

Enrollment in engineering classes with Project Lead the Way has remained consistent, Davis said.For 2017, 72 students were enrolled in the classes, compared to 80 students this year. Of the 80 students, 13 are seniors taking the fourth-year engineering class, Davis said.

Business and marketing courses include survey of business, marketing business enterprise, marketing management, career readiness and work release.

Starting with the current sophomores, all students will be required to take career readiness, Davis said. graduation.

Enrollment for agriculture classes has fluctuated the past five years. For 2021-22, enrollment is 158 students. Davis said he believes the high school needs to place a focus on agriculture to increase enrollment in that program.

Davis said many students just go through the motions in high school, and CTE classes are a way to get students involved.

He said he’s excited about plans for the future for career technical education at Prairie Grove High School.

Davis said he wants to increase the arts. Examples are digital photography, graphic design and advertising, designing school websites and apps or sports photography.

For computer science, he said he would like to expand it to include courses such as robotics, app development, cybersecurity and game development.

Other ideas are criminal justice, sports medicine, first responder, wildlife management and conservation, construction, welding and teacher preparation for students who are interested in being an educator in the future.

The school is helping students earn concurrent credit by offering college algebra and college statistics through the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Next year, the school will offer Composition 1 and Composition 2, both college courses.

Diesel mechanics and dentistry are other options through Northwest Technical Institute.

Davis said he wants to get students excited about opportunities beyond high school and encourage them to take more CTE classes.

Some proposals are to have a demonstration day to give students hands-on experience with different careers, field trips to see careers in action and lunches where guests are invited to come and discuss their jobs with interested students.

There are challenges to meet, Davis told School Board members. These include more staff, more money and equipment.

Some of these challenges can be met by using Virtual Arkansas for certain CTE courses, he said. Others may take several years to meet.

“Our community is changing,” Davis said. “We want to get all our students prepared. We want to have something for every kid who comes to our school.”

Other business

In other business, the Prairie Grove School Board:

• Approved a recommendation to hire Prairie Grove police officer Jacob Rollins as the third school resource officer, starting with the 2022-23 school year.

• Approved the consent agenda and accepted the resignations of teachers Angie Stewart, Benjamin Marcom, Isaac Peason and Mat Stewart.

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