?Sometimes our vocational courses are the only place kids are exposed to the concept of craftsmanship, of pride and workmanship, work ethic, feeling of accomplishment, tangible award for the effort you put forth,? he said.
?When you?ve made something?whether a pie to eat and enjoy, the engine in the car you?ve fixed and it runs right, a business plan you?ve written or a brochure you?ve created?you have something. I think that?s tremendously valuable for all kids.?
The pathways initiative operates under the premise of integrating academics and career training for students while they are in high school.
?I?m really interested in that partnership between core academics and the vocational,? he said. ?A lot of time (applied training) provides relevance for some of our more academic programs.?
For example, he said students can better understand the value of math when they realize how it is used by carpenters and mechanics in the ?real world.?
CATE pathways at USD 398 focus on three career clusters: Agriculture, Food and National Resources; Business Manage?ment and Administration; and Education and Training.
The pathways are coordinated by the three department chairs?Ty Larue, a new hire in agricultural education, Patty Savage in business-computer, and Cathy Silvers in family and consumer science?along with Kathy Preheim, curriculum director.
All serve on the district curriculum committee, he added.
For some districts, part of the appeal for participating in CATE may be additional state funding for those classes, but Watson said it?s not as lucrative as some may think.
?There?s a little bit of money associated with career and vocational education?it?s not much,? he said. ?There?s a tremendous number of hoops you have to jump through to achieve that money.?
While some of those hoops are beneficial, Watson said, others seem more bureaucratic, such as course offerings and sequencing.
?The amount of money that is at stake is not enough to justify doing it, in my estimation,? he said. ?We need to do what?s right for kids, whether or not the money is there for it because it?s not that much money to begin with. It?s certainly not the volume of money that people think it is.?
Watson said determining the amount of funding that supplements the CATE programs is more complicated than merely figuring a percentage of the base state aid per pupil, which is $3,780.
Other aspects to be factored in are number of students enrolled in a class, length of time the class meets and class schedules.
Watson said last year, while USD 398 budgeted for 11.7 students in its vocational classes, the actual number was 8.2 FTE, which generated about $31,000.
Those funds had to be divided among the three programs, he said, with costs to include teachers? salaries and materials and supplies that would not be required in other classes such as math.
?The reality of it is the vocational funding doesn?t come close to supporting vocational education,? he said.
In fall, Peabody-Burns is adding another aspect to its CATE program.
?We?ve hired Mark Grout, who was the principal at Goessel High School,? Watson said. ?Part of his position with us next year is an entrepreneurship and project-based learning program. That?s one of those things you do because that?s right for kids.?
CENTRE HIGH SCHOOL
This fall at Centre High School, Lisa Beye said the six students in her Advanced Integrated Marketing class, an upper-level course for the Marketing pathway, will be gaining hands-on experience in entrepreneurship.
?A couple of them are going to be doing a coffee shop, a couple are going to continue with the photography business, and I?ve got a couple of boys that do stuff for Tri-County (Fair in Herington) and other events,? said Beye, who teaches business and computer classes at Centre.
?So we?ve got three little businesses running at once.?
Beye said she has handpicked a couple of students to write a business plan for the coffee shop during the first nine weeks, Around October, they?re going to open for business.
Already established is Paw Print Photography, a student-run business that has been operating for two years.
?We take all the sports pictures, prom pictures,? Beye said. ?There?s been a few people who have done senior pictures.
?We take those pictures and we send them to get them developed and do all that. So I want to take an already-established business a senior started two years ago and I want to continue to build that also.?
At USD 397, Beye is responsible for coordinating and teaching two business-focused pathways, Finance and Marketing, which will be offered for the first time in fall.
?It?s all going to be a learning process here for a couple of years,? Beye said about the CATE program.
Beye said she?s convinced about the value of offering the Finance pathway because it provides accounting and advanced accounting course requirements.
At USD 397, Laura Klenda coordinates pathways in the food science and horticulture areas, while Mark Hager, who will join Centre?s teaching staff in fall, is taking over the woodworking and welding.
Each pathway has an introductory course.
For those in business, Beye said that course is Entrepre?neur?ship, one of three new classes she?ll be teaching. The other two are Business Economics and Marketing.
Beye said she?s looking forward to teaching those courses. She anticipates using materials from computer classes she?s taught previously.
?I think that I can incorporate a lot of those simulation packets into the marketing class,? she said.
In the past, computer classes have focused on learning software and computer applications, but that emphasis is changing.
?You?re not using a whole semester to teach InDesign anymore,? Beye said. ?I?m going to now teach InDesign but have them use it as a tool to produce business cards, flyers and brochures and learn how to write them and market them.?
Beye welcomes such changes emphasized in the pathway learning outcomes.
?I think it?s going to make us more well-rounded,? she said. ?And I?m kind of excited about a change?a little bit of a change.?
Beye will continue teaching her Web Design class.
?In that class we?re going to focus on learning some Web design software, but we?re also responsible for maintaining the school?s website,? she said. ?So they?ll be doing that in class.?
The shift to pathways requires less paperwork than the vocational education funding model, when Beye had to submit course outlines and competencies.
?The hardest part was finding a textbook because they don?t exactly tell you what textbook to use. It gives you a little bit more freedom pick the book and the materials you want to teach that fit your school the best.?
Beye said she recently received a message on Facebook from a student who got a summer job at a printing company.
?She told me, ?It?s just what we do, it?s just everything I did last year, that?s what I?m doing now.?
?So that makes you feel good. You know, this can help them?maybe not with a career, but with a part-time job.?