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Superintendents’ Forum: Benefits of Career and Technical Education

This article was originally published in the Reading Eagle: https://www.readingeagle.com/2023/02/02/superintendents-forum-benefits-of-career-and-technical-education/

By: Dr. Michael Stauffer, Executive Director of the Berks Career & Technology Center (left), and Mr. Eric Kahler, Administrative Director of Reading-Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center (right)

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Career and Technical Education Month occurs each February and is focused on showcasing the many great benefits of a career and technical education program. As part of that recognition, it is important that we highlight the many opportunities available to high school students and adults throughout Berks County due to the remarkable partnerships between business and industry, our K-12 schools, and two career and technical education centers.

Berks is home to 18 outstanding public school districts offering a rigorous academic education, a wide variety of clubs, afterschool sports and other activities to meet the unique needs and interests of their student population. In addition, our county is fortunate to offer its students opportunities to attend and obtain the benefits of a career and technical education at one of two premier centers.

Both the Berks Career and Technology Center and the Reading-Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center offer local high school students an opportunity to get a jump-start on their career through a comprehensive three-year programming sequence designed to deliver a high-quality, comprehensive career and technical education program in seven career clusters: Business and Information Technology, Communications, Construction, Engineering & Manufacturing Technology, Healthcare, Services, and Transportation.

Upon completion of the CTE program, coupled with an outstanding academic program at any of our Berks school districts, CTC graduates will be prepared for in-demand careers and/or continuing their education at a two- or four-year college/university or postsecondary training center.

Additionally, students who choose to attend one of our career and technical education centers will find themselves learning alongside industry professionals, earning nationally recognized industry certifications, having opportunities to participate in cooperative education work experiences and earn up to 27 college credits … all while still in high school and in conjunction with their high school education.

Additionally, students may have opportunities to work on a live construction site at the student-built home on Career Court in Oley, contribute to the NASA HUNCH program where Precision/Computerized Machining students at the Berks Career and Technology Center are manufacturing handlebars to be installed on the International Space Station, or participate in live work opportunities that positively impact their community with experiences like working with the Reading Fightin Phils on their First Energy Stadium renovation.

Pictured: Masonry student Kyle Wieland and masonry instructor Mike Kern work on laying bricks at a house under construction in Oley Township by students at the Berks Career & Technology Center. The youths are laying a foundation for high paying jobs without the cost of college.

Making the decision to attend a career and technical education center for half of the regular school day can be a daunting proposition. However, once that decision has been made our students often find the career and technical education setting as the difference maker in their lives.

Laci Naftzinger, a Level III Welding student at the Berks Career and Technology Center and senior at Tulpehocken High School, said: “Attending the welding program is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I have an amazing support system and BCTC taught me things I never thought were possible.”

McKenna Dougherty, a Level III student in the Health Dental Occupations program at the Reading-Muhlenberg Career and Technology Education Center and Muhlenberg High School said: “I chose to come out to CTC because I wanted the opportunity to get a feel of what dentistry is all about. My favorite part about my program is being able to do hands-on things in our classroom and being able to get a head start in my career path with the amazing help of my teachers.”

Our career and technical education centers offer Berks County students many exceptional opportunities that will provide a solid foundation to continue their education or enter the workforce in a high-demand career after high school. For more information, or to begin your career and technical education journey, please contact your school counselor and ask, how you too, can take the first step toward a great career.

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