Like the workforce it aims to prepare students for, the Tyler ISD Career and Technology Center is evolving.
When the district’s career and technical education hub opens its doors for the 2018 fall semester seniors will be able to embark on a new path that allows them to take all of their classes at the center.
Currently students either drive or are busedover to the CTC for 90-minute blocks.
Gary Brown, the school district’s executive director of college and career, said the new program is designed for students who want to focus on their career pathway.
The program, nicknamed Tyler Tech, will begin building toward a stand-alone learning experience for students.
“We’ve got a group of seniors who could be here all day,” Brown said. “When they’re transitioning (across town) there’s a little lost time and focus.”
The CTC also offers the benefit of a workplace environment. Since opening its doors in 2015, the center has expanded from offering 26 course paths to more than 70 for the 2018-19 school year.
The course offerings are pulled from three lists – state, federal and local. Texas Education Agency approved courses make up about half the list. The rest are based on projected workforce demands.
Brown said many of their students aren’t interested in extracurricular activities or going to pep rallies, opting instead to focus on their certifications and internship opportunities.
In addition to bringing some core curriculum classes on campus, the center also will add more certifications. In December, the district had its first student receive EMT certification and hopes to add many more to that list.
“We’re trying to explore the best options for our students,” Brown said.
The CTC also is exploring options with the Tyler Junior College Fire Academy and pathways toward careers in law enforcement for the fall.
As students select their courses for the next year, Brown said the CTC would have a better idea of what direction the students would like to take and could adjust accordingly. He expects to have between 75 and 125 students interested in taking all of their classes at the CTC.
If the demand is high enough, core classes for juniors will be added the next year, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Rawly Sanchez said.
Sanchez also said there is room for eventually bringing in ninth- and tenth-grade courses for students who are committed to a CTE pathway. The center currently offers classes for grades 11 and 12, while the main high school campuses handle introductory coursework.
Brown said these options could be part of a pathway that allows students to finish most of their coursework for an associate’s degree in their chosen field. Generally, the student would be looking at a five-year path, having completed many core college classes and some of their technical courses while in high school.
The CTC already offers dual credit government economics and English classes.
Over the next few months the district will focus on making adjustments to the campus to allow for all-day learning. Some areas they will address include food services and transportation.
While the CTC does have a café run by Culinary Arts students, it wasn’t built with a full-service cafeteria in mind.
Brown said the district also would work to ensure transportation is not an obstacle for students who wish to attend classes all day. Beyond that, Brown also is looking for ways to help students get to internship opportunities.
“Anything that gives our students an opportunity for workplace experience is advantageous,” Brown said.