Although our goal is to provide every student a solid foundation which enables them to seek enrollment in any post-secondary institution, we also know that there are many of our students who will be pursuing certifications, endorsements and degrees through Career and Technical Education Programs. These programs that prepare students for technical careers are a vital part of any comprehensive high school. Here at Fort Dodge Senior High, we have had a tradition of strong programs and have strengthened that tradition with the support of Iowa Central Community College, Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, numerous local employers and projects funded by other organizations or individuals within our community.
Our current programs include: Health Occupations, Manufacturing, Construction, Business, Marketing, Child Development, Culinary Arts and a comprehensive Family and Consumer Science option. We also offer a number of classes in other core curricular areas that prepare students for careers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Teachers in traditional core areas such as English, Social Studies, Science and Mathematics establish a solid foundation for our students interested in pursuing a technical career. Our career and technical programs offer students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in those courses, as well as develop technical skills needed to be competitive in the job market or as they pursue admission to technical programs which in some areas has become very competitive. This is largely due to the fact that individuals with two year technical degrees are in high demand while many careers traditionally requiring four year degrees are being outsourced to other countries. As my brother has reminded me on many occasions, “They can’t outsource wiring a house, maintaining our roads or fixing a toilet to individuals living in China or India.”
This is not to say that those interested in career and technical education programs will all pursue a two year degree, as there are numerous opportunities to earn four year and advanced degrees in these areas as well. Each of the programs we offer provides students the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the job market as well as in any post-secondary program. Many of our programs include college level courses which are offered right here in our high school. In addition, we have recently engaged in a partnership with ICCC, Webster City-Northeast Hamilton, Eagle Grove, and Clarion-Goldfield which will provide our students access to programs we would otherwise be unable to offer to our students due to limited interest. We have also partnered with area districts to allow their students to attend FDSH for CTE courses their home districts are not able to offer them. Working together allows more students from all of the schools involved to study in CTE areas.
The ability to recall information from memory is not as marketable today as it was prior to the invention of pocket devices which can access the tremendous wealth of information available to us via the internet. What you are able to recall from memory is becoming less and less important when compared to what you can do with the information you can access electronically. Career and technical education programs engage students in tasks that require problem solving, creativity, the ability to work on a team and require them to plan and complete projects. These skills are valuable in whatever career students may later pursue. It is possible that I am biased as I taught traditional science classes as well as courses in industrial technology, and generally found it much easier to answer the question of, “Why do I need to know this?” in the industrial technology classes I was responsible for. Career and Technical teachers are rarely asked this question at Fort Dodge Senior High due to the numerous real world projects students in these courses are engaged in on a daily basis. We are only able to provide our students these opportunities and experiences due to the tremendous support we receive from our community.