IW schools unveil CTE schedule format

Published 12:42 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Alternating weeks, shorter academic classes and a more focused career path.

These are a few of the elements that so far make up the first draft of a new Career and Technical Education schedule being developed by Isle of Wight County School administrators, who are on a mission to “redesign the high school experience,” according to Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton. In the CTE schedule put forth, one week will be dedicated to core academic classes for students, and the next entirely to CTE.

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At a School Board meeting Thursday, Executive Director of Secondary Schools Mark Mabey presented the working CTE schedule that the division hopes to begin implementing in three years.

The division plans to offer two potential paths for the division’s high school students: the traditional 4×4 academic schedule, and a new CTE-focused schedule. Students would be able to choose which schedule to take. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The new CTE schedule features five blocks for core academic classes per day, as opposed to the traditional four blocks, which would alternate weekly with a CTE path of the student’s choosing (such as cosmetology, agriculture or culinary arts).

“This is just an idea,” said Mabey to the School Board of the schedule. “We have to have a place to start.”

According to the CTE schedule presented, students in the first semester of ninth grade would take a CTE exploratory route, rotating different courses every three weeks. By the second semester of freshman year, the students would ideally choose which path to focus on for the next three years.

Eighth graders could potentially shadow high school students taking CTE courses to begin getting an idea of what they might be interested, Mabey said.

Once a CTE path is chosen, it may be difficult to switch to a different one, as it would depend on whether there is a slot in a different CTE path available. Due to the large amount of CTE courses scheduled to be offered, however, Thornton said he did not believe it would be much of a problem.

Because the schedule proposes five blocks a day to accommodate core classes, the classes would potentially be shortened from 140 minutes, to 60 minutes, though the division is still considering whether it wants to go in that direction.

“We’re going to research that well,” said Thornton of the class time, noting that such a change is permitted by the state.

While the CTE schedule would provide a good deal of time toward the division’s new CTE courses, students might have to sacrifice other opportunities at the schools to take it.

For instance, AP and dual enrollment courses, as well as an opportunity for obtaining an advanced diploma, would likely only be available for students in the traditional schedule, according to Thornton.

On the flip side, it is also not yet certain whether students taking the traditional schedule would be able to enroll in the division’s CTE courses.

One of the primary reasons the division decided to opt out of The Pruden Center for Industry and Technology last year and initiate its own CTE courses, was that students did not have time for extracurricular activities, and sign-ups for the 220 slots at Pruden dwindled.

However, the CTE schedule presented by the division Thursday might also prevent students from having time to take activities such as band, due to the rotating weeks, according to Mabey.

The schools won’t be able to accommodate everything, but they can’t do that now anyway, said Thornton to the Board.

“There’s no schedule like this in the state of Virginia,” Thornton said.

In putting the schedule together, the division researched three technical schools, including Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Bourne, Mass., Lehigh Career and Technical Institute in Schnecksville, Pa. and the Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach.

Mabey highlighted the student independence he witnessed in the schools he visited.

“Students were engaged independently, working together,” Mabey said of a school restaurant run by students he visited.

The division will continue to seek input from parents, teachers and students on the planned CTE schedule, according to division spokesperson Lynn Briggs, who compared Thursday’s presented schedule with the rough draft of an essay that needed to be submitted by deadline.

After the division requested $10 million from the county, to be paid back annually from money formerly used to pay for Pruden, the Board of Supervisors voted to take out a loan of nearly $8 million to fund the division’s new proposed CTE courses. 

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing regarding the potential loan Thursday, April 20.


CTE rollout

During the presentation Thursday, Mabey also discussed the division’s three-year plans to roll out its CTE courses at Windsor and Smithfield High School. Students will be able to enroll in courses held at either school.

Year 1: 2017-18

Smithfield High:

Welding I

Nurse Aid I & II

Culinary I & II

Windsor High:

Agriculture Production Technology

Agriculture Production Management

Cosmetology I & II

Building Trades I & II

Year 2: 2018-19

Smithfield High:

Global Logistics I & II

Engineering/Mechatronics (a blended course)

Welding II

Windsor High:

Cosmetology III

Farm Business I

Year 3: 2019-20

Smithfield High:

Additional Health Science Courses

Culinary expansion (Restaurant, catering)

Global Logistics III

Windsor High:

Farm Business II

Horticulture (Grounds Maintenance)

Upcoming: 2020-

Windsor High:


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