Prairie Grove Manager Talks Vocational Technical Training Courses

PRAIRIE GROVE – Prairie Grove High School has placed more emphasis on vocational technical education (CTE) courses, and student participation in these courses has increased by 20% over the past five years.

Principal Jed Davis admits that one of the reasons for the surge in enrollment is that ninth graders are now required to take at least one CTE course, but at the same time it provides new opportunities for students, a- he declared.

“It looks a little different from when you went to high school and I went to high school,” Davis said while giving an overview of the CTE program at the March 15 school board meeting.

In 2017, 662 high school students were enrolled in a CTE course. That figure rose to 799 for the 2021-22 school year, he said. The numbers have also increased, he said, as many students take more than one CTE course.

Vocational technical training courses include agriculture, computer science, Project Lead the Way, family and consumer science, certified nursing assistant, and business courses.

Davis gave some highlights of the school’s program.

Family and consumer science is one of the most popular courses in high school. Davis said the school added another teacher this year and that helped with enrollment. The curriculum has grown from 143 students in 2017 to 222 for the 2021-22 school year.

The school has a 100% pass rate for its students taking courses to become a certified practical nurse.

Enrollment in engineering courses with Project Lead the Way has remained consistent, Davis said. For 2017, 72 students were enrolled in classes, compared to 80 students this year. Of the 80 students, 13 are seniors taking the fourth-year engineering class, Davis said.

Business and marketing courses include business investigation, business marketing, marketing management, career preparation, and work placement.

Starting with current sophomores, all students will need to prepare for the career, Davis said. The work release program allows juniors and seniors to miss three periods of high school for a job, if they are on task to earn all the credits required for graduation.

Enrollment in agriculture courses has fluctuated over the past five years. For 2021-22, enrollment is 158 students. Davis said he believes high school needs to emphasize agriculture to increase enrollment in that program.

Davis said many students just go with the flow in high school, and CTE classes are a way to engage students.

He said he was excited about future plans for vocational technical education at Prairie Grove High School.

Davis said he wanted to increase the arts. Examples are digital photography, graphic design and advertising, school website and app design, or sports photography.

For computer science, he said he would like to expand it to include courses such as robotics, app development, cybersecurity and game development.

Other ideas are criminal justice, sports medicine, first responders, wildlife management and conservation, construction, welding, and teacher preparation for students who want to become educators in the future.

The school helps students earn concurrent credits by offering college algebra and college statistics through the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Next year, the school will offer Composition 1 and Composition 2, two college courses.

Diesel mechanics and dentistry are other options offered by Northwest Technical Institute.

Davis said he wants to get students excited about opportunities beyond high school and encourage them to take more CTE courses.

Some proposals include hosting a demo day to give students hands-on experience of different careers, field trips to see the careers in action, and luncheons where guests are invited to come discuss their work with interested students.

There are challenges ahead, Davis told school board members. These include more personnel, more money and equipment.

Some of those challenges can be met by using Virtual Arkansas for some CTE courses, he said. Others may take several years to come together.

“Our community is changing,” Davis said. “We want all of our students to be prepared. We want to have something for every child that comes to our school.”

other business

In other matters, the Prairie Grove School Board:

• Approved a recommendation to hire Prairie Grove Police Officer Jacob Rollins as the third School Resource Officer, beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

• Approved the consent agenda and accepted the resignations of teachers Angie Stewart, Benjamin Marcom, Isaac Peason and Mat Stewart.

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