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Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Enhancing Community Involvement in CTE Courses

June 27th, 2022 | 4 min. read

McKenna Garrison

McKenna Garrison

McKenna Garrison joined the iCEV marketing team in 2022 as the Content Marketing Specialist. Originally from a small town on the Gulf of Mexico, Garrison attended Texas Tech University from which she graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations & Strategic Community and an M.A. in Mass Communication & Media Studies. Garrison looks forward to bringing more of a storytelling element to iCEV social media pages. She also hopes to connect other CTE educators from around the country to the incredible curricula and resources iCEV has to offer.

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The Importance of Community Involvement

In education, it takes a village. From the students and teachers to active parents, there is a multitude of people who can positively impact a student’s educational experience. Community members, while sometimes overlooked, also play an integral role in increasing student success. With these three entities collaborating on providing the best opportunities for their students, the students can graduate with a more well-rounded education, positive hands-on experiences and increased readiness for the next steps of their lives.

In fact, the National Education Association (NEA) recently stated that “when schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher-level programs.” With these benefits in mind, it’s more important than ever to integrate community involvement with your Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.

How to Incorporate Community Involvement with CTE Courses

While volunteering is one of the most common ways to encourage community involvement in the educational process, volunteering should not be viewed as a fix-all for incorporating community involvement with your program. In fact, enhancing your current community involvement initiatives is a great way to reenergize your community and reignite their passion for supporting their local students.

Through events, community gatherings, and opportunities to collaborate with students, you can create more moments for the community and students to connect.

First, take a glance at your current community involvement initiatives. Are there organizations or businesses that are consistently providing opportunities for students inside and outside of the classroom? If so, they are a great place to start. Reach out to collaborate on new ideas and even previously successful community involvement initiatives that you can revamp.

Secondly, if there are few organizations or even none at all, look at your current CTE courses and compare your offered courses to existing local organizations and businesses with similar backgrounds or purposes. For example, if your school is currently offering floral design, think about contacting your local florist for opportunities.

Lastly, when thinking about community involvement, you may want to consider how your students are interacting with their community. Within your current CTSOs, where are students volunteering their time? Create a list of organizations currently benefiting from your CTSOs and collaborate on new initiatives and ways that students can support those organizations.

How you will incorporate community involvement will vary widely for each school. However, by getting creative with your community involvement, you can reengage the community and create more opportunities for student and community connections.

Ideas on How to Enhance Community Involvement and CTE Programs:
1.) Develop a mentorship program with community leaders

Most schools are involved in career exploration for their students. Some even host “Meet the Pros” days where local industry leaders provide information and insight into becoming successful in their career field.

Take your Meet the Pros Day a step further by adding a mentor program. When developing the program, reach out to a multitude of industry leaders with varying backgrounds to provide volunteer and shadow opportunities for students interested in gaining hands-on knowledge in their career field of interest.

For example, students from a marketing class could intern with a local marketing agency or business to gain real-world experience. Additionally, students interested in law enforcement could complete a ride-along for more insight into the day-to-day life of police officers.

2.) Create a CTSO Give Back Day

Take your school’s volunteering to a new level with an annual CTSO Give Back event where each CTSO selects an organization to volunteer with or a project to complete that is aligned with the group’s purpose.

For example, the HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) organization could spend the day with a local nursing home providing company to their tenets. Additionally, your FFA (Future Farmers of America) members could plant a community garden for community members in need.

3.) Give opportunity for your students to teach their community

Have students lead teaching sessions or lunch and learn for members in the community looking to learn more about a concept or skill.

For example, STEM students can lead a session on the basics of robotics or Veterinary Medical Applications students can teach pet CPR.

By providing ample opportunities for students and community members to connect, not only do community members feel more invested in their local school’s educational process but students become more well-rounded and prepared for life outside of the classroom.