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Traversing the Partnership: Career and Technical Education in Junior High Settings

                Another program mentioned at the “Portrait of a Graduate” sessions hosted by the State Board of Education was the career and technical education program at Rock Springs Junior High School. We talked to the principal of Rock Springs Junior High School, Kristeen Cundall, to learn more about their program offerings.

                Rock Springs Junior High School has a long-standing career and technical education (CTE) program that has been providing information to students for over a decade. This program has metal classes, business classes, family consumer sciences, wood shop, and power mechanics classes. The program is set up as modules so that students can get as much hands-on training as possible in the various programs of interest. Some courses in this program are also required for all students such as integrated computer technology, which is a valuable asset in the business and entrepreneurship course series. Still, RSJHS is also making plans for the future and expanding the equipment and courses offered in the program.

                The work that they are doing for CTE is not only in the courses that are offered, but also in the mentality of the school. One of the activities in the language arts department includes having guest speakers from various career areas visit classrooms to speak about what skills are required and what opportunities are present. In addition, students visit the different participating small businesses in the area to learn more about what workplaces are like. Part of the mentality that is shared among the administration is that it is important to ensure that the education is linked to real life experiences to enhance the meaningfulness of that knowledge and student interest.

                A variety of benefits are experienced by the students, the families, the community, and the businesses in the area. For the students, they build pride in the work that they are doing and are able to better apply concepts such as the mathematical ones in scaling and proportioning building materials. The families find great enjoyment out of the works done by the students as the principal noted seeing parents using baskets or toolboxes created by their children. In addition, the community finds joy in seeing the work that is being done by the students as they often share on social media some of the creations and new activities in the courses. As for businesses, they enjoy working with the students from the school through the visits and also discuss what is offered at Rock Springs Junior High School as an incentive for potential employees who are looking for positive experiences for their children.

                If you are interested in starting up a CTE program at your junior high, Kristeen Cundall has some suggestions. One thing that can help is seeing if nearby manufacturing businesses would be interested in donating or partnering so that it is easier to access equipment for students. She sees people make mentions that schools do not support CTE, and she has not seen that at all. CTE programs are encouraged all over and she thinks that junior high schools can also be a strong place for building these skills so that they are better equipped for more advanced opportunities in high school and beyond. For many students, creating something of their own can inspire a level of precision and appreciation that can be streamlined to other classes as students see just how meaningful their work can be.

                For more information on the CTE program, you can contact Kristeen Cundall at
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Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3274


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