Pittsville High’s Career and Technical Education Academy Helps Students Prepare for Future

From Left to Right: Paige Stewart, Emily Carlson, Dezarae Pelot, Maria Esser, Julia Redmond, Tori Weinfurter, Rylee Schiller, Willow Pierce. Missing from the photo: Morgan Geer.

In light of a global pandemic, we realize how important cultivating future nurses can be. At Pittsville High School, the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Academy allows students to get a head start on their post-high school careers.

A group of nine seniors at Pittsville High School are currently serving their community after going through the CNA certification. Their names are: Emily Carlson, Willow Pierce, Rylee Schiller, Tori Weinfurter, Julia Redmond, Paige Stewart, Dezarae Pelot, Maria Esser and Morgan Geer.

They are part of the larger CTE program which allows juniors and seniors to get real-life experience through job shadowing and internships.

The CTE program includes disciplines from technical education, family & consumer sciences, business education, and agriscience education classes at Pittsville High School.

The program has been in place at Pittsville for seven years and over 700 job shadows have been performed.

Emily Carlson has goals of attending a four-year university and eventually becoming a Nurse Practitioner. She said going through the program has helped her to achieve her goal of entering the medical field.

“I’ve really gotten a lot of experience in the medical field through this program,” Carlson said. “I’ve actually been able to work as a home-health aid during school. I’ve been able to get real-world experience while going to school so it’s been a tremendous help.”

Technology Education Teacher Stephen Hadfield said the program is meant to give valuable experience to students who may be considering a specific career path.

“All the activities that we do, even the things that are outside of their job shadow and their internship, is all part of just trying to give them some insight into the early career path,” Hadfield said.

Twenty-one percent of the 2020-21 graduating class is participating in this program as a CNA according to Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, Alyssa Anderson.

Dezarae Pelot said the experience has been very rewarding for her but everyone can use the program to gain experience.

“This program at Pittsville could be used for anything,” Pelot said. “It worked out very nice for me to be able to continue my education and keep getting experience in the medical field. But honestly, anyone can benefit from it.”

Morgan Geer said the program has allowed her to work with many different illnesses and it has taught her skills that will be vital to her success in the medical field.

“It’s mentally prepared me,” Geer said. “Even though my job can be difficult—being a CNA in a nursing home I deal with a lot of hospice residents, a lot of people who are end-of-life, people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and a whole array of disorders. I’ve just learned to be super patient and how to deal with different experiences and it’s helped me a lot.”

Hadfield said the program can link students to employers whose relationships then last a lifetime.

“We have many students who have job-shadowed a place, they did their internship there, that turned into work-based learning and a youth apprenticeship,” Hadfield said. “Then they got hired full-time when they graduated high school and were making a living wage without any education right out of high school.”

Anderson pointed out that the program also helps students determine which career paths might not suit them.

“We have had students who go into their job shadows thinking they want to go into this career,” Anderson said. “Once they complete an extended job shadow, they’re like, ‘Whoa, this is not anything that I expected.’ Sometimes what feels like failures or what didn’t work well are actually the successes because they had that experience and now they don’t have to have schooling for this type of career. So some of those failures aren’t really failures, they’re successes.”

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Neal Hogden
Author: Neal Hogden