Creating Authentic Learning Experiences Through CTE
Today’s career and technical education programs (CTE) have become increasingly innovative. Extending well beyond the development of simple technical skills, high-quality CTE programs increase student engagement through the integration of technical and academic skills in hands-on, real-world learning experiences. But these programs don’t happen on their own. It takes passionate and dedicated teachers to help students build the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in college and careers.
In recognition of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, Mary Dermitt (Health Sciences teacher at Sioux City Career Academy) tells us how she came to the profession, shares ways our CTE programs integrate core academic areas, and explains why these programs are important for students and the state.
How did you become interested in teaching health science?
I worked as a registered nurse in a hospital setting for 16 years, but I have always been interested in teaching. I always thought I would teach at the college level, but the opportunity arose for me to be a school nurse. When I first started in the mid ‘90s, I spent half of my time as a school nurse and the other half teaching health sciences. Back then, I had five students. Today we have four full-time health science teachers for 570 students from all three Sioux City public high schools.
How does your program integrate core academic subject matter?
Our health science programs incorporate core academics in ways that make the subject matter relevant to students’ interests. For example, the English and health science teachers in our junior academy recently partnered with the Siouxland District Health Department to create a marketing campaign around child wellness visits, immunizations, and dental visits. Student teams created audio and video PSA (public service) announcements and informational posters based on community needs and feedback from radio, television, and public health professionals. The ultimate goal is for one PSA package to be selected and used as a community education product.