Board Receives Update on CTE

School Board Hears CTE Progress & Plans
Posted on 12/18/2019
This is the image for the news article titled School Board Hears CTE Progress & PlansBY David Fisher
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Members of the Weakley County School Board heard an update from Career Technical Education (CTE) Director Lindsey Parham, during the December meeting at Martin Middle School.

Parham is a native of Palmersville and now resides in Dresden. For the past 11 years, she served as an Ag teacher in McKenzie and for eight of those years, did double duty as the CTE director for the McKenzie Special School District.

Parham is eager to bring Early Post Secondary Opportunities (EPSOs) like statewide dual credit courses, Tennessee-specific industry certifications in agriculture and family and consumer sciences to Weakley County schools and build industry partnerships in our area to fill the workforce needs.

“The state has decided it’s very important to put CTE in our middle schools,” Parham said. “For so long, we’ve asked our kids, ‘what do you want to do?’ You have your five-year plan. And, they have absolutely no exposure to the programs of study we offer in Weakley County. The kids need more exposure to that ahead of time.”

She explained the Weakley County School System is considering adding a career exploration course to the curriculum.

Parham noted McKenzie High School’s ninth-grade had such a course, but the Tennessee Department of Education has determined it needs to be moved down to an eighth-grade level course.

She stated a career exploration course exposes students to careers in the area, teaches resume writing, and improves interview skills.

She noted employers ask job applicants about their soft skills. “Soft skills are not something easily taught,” Parham said. “But with this career exploration course, it’s going to be a good start, by beginning in the eighth grade.”

Parham stated she spoke with Supervisor of Education, (grades 6-12), Mr. Donald Ray High, concerning Cambridge ACT prep, which is taught five days each week.

“We’re hoping to transition this into Cambridge ACT Prep three days per week and a career exploration course two days weekly,” she said. ”The beauty of this is, they don’t sit in a classroom the whole time. I’ve always been an ag teacher. I tend to focus on hands-on education. So, we’re hoping to include field trips.”

Parham gave examples of potential field trips that emphasize hands-on activities. This might include the Tennessee Technology Center and Bethel University in McKenzie, Tosh Farms in Henry, and different industries in that area. She also mentioned taking the students to visit two-year institutions and industries in Jackson, Tennessee, such as Jackson State.

Parham also discussed field trips to four-year universities in the area, such as UT Martin and Bethel University,

She stressed the importance of exposing students to available opportunities, so they will be more informed when developing their five-year plan.

Parham mentioned a screen printing lab is being set up at Westview to demonstrate this type of industry to students. She noted the equipment has been donated by the Yeargin family. It will be a collaboration between Mrs. Laura Freeman, who teaches fashion and interior design, and Jennifer Wenz, a visual arts teacher.

The Charger Foundation is readying the lab for use as a screen-printing class.

“We’ve heard it said, ‘if you buy it for one school, you’ve got to buy it for every school,” Parham said. “That is not my philosophy at all. I want to look at it as being ‘Weakley Strong.'"

She explained it would be good for each of the high schools in Weakley County to have its own specialty in Career Technical Education.

Parham stated Dresden High School has a livestock farm, taught by Mr. Jason Kemp. And, beginning in January of 2020, all sausage served in Weakley County School cafeterias will come from pork raised at the Weakley County Livestock Production Program. She noted the classes at the school are offered to all Weakley County students. Parham added the ag classes could expand to include butchering and marketing skills.

She said Westview has a screen printing class.

At Gleason School, Mr. Steve Stigall’s class has had a CNC machine installed, which is capable of making a four-foot square metal sign.
Greenfield High School’s ag classes are taught by ag teacher Matt Humphrey, who wants a greenhouse.

According to Parham, students will eventually learn how to design web sites for the Weakley County School System, which will give them practical, hands-on, real-world experience.

In other business, the board approved textbook adoption committees for English Language Arts for elementary, middle and high school students.

The board approved sports and academic-related field trips for Weakley County students. This includes Dresden High School cheerleaders attending a Memphis Grizzlies game on December 14; Gleason girl’s basketball team members traveling to Franklin for MTIT tourney on December 27-30; and Martin Elementary Charger Scholar Club traveling to Huntsville, Alabama, to visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on April 4, 2020.

The next school board meeting is 5 p.m., Thursday, January 9, 2020, at the Weakley County Board of Education in Dresden.
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