CTE program asking for public feedback

February 9, 2024

CTE program asking for public feedback

West Shore School News is presented by West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

VICTORY TOWNSHIP — When you think about Career and Technical Education what comes to your mind? The leaders of West Shore Educational Service District’s CTE program want to hear feedback from the public about its perception of the program through a survey.

“Historically, here at CTE we think there might be some misperceptions of what CTE is,” said Jamie Bandstra, principal/director of CTE and ASM Tech. “Often we hear from community members, students or parents that they think that CTE is for a certain type of student. We want to find out what the misperceptions are so we can know how to market effectively.”

The CTE program was established in 1989 by the Mason-Lake Intermediate School District (now consolidated into the West Shore ESD) and is funded by a millage paid by the property taxes in Mason, Lake, and Oceana counties. It is also available to students from Manistee County on a tuition basis.

About 500 students, high school juniors and seniors, participate in the program’s 13 vocational classes, which are mostly housed on the campus of West Shore Community College.

“Our location here at West Shore Community College is fantastic and we have a wonderful relationship with the college,” said Chad Riffle, CTE assistant principal. “But, we often hear from the public that many people think that this is a college program. That’s one of the areas that we want to address. Of course, we have a great partnership with WSCC and having the high school kids out on the college campus has many benefits. But, we want to learn how we can make sure the public understands that this is a high school program, funded and operated by the ESD.”

Bandstra said the survey’s purpose serves several purposes.

“Naturally we want to hear from the public,” Bandstra said. “But, we also want to find out from students and school personnel about how we can better serve them.”

Riffle said program officials are aware they need to provide more information to students early in their high school career so they make the right decisions when entering CTE.

“This is another purpose of the survey, to figure out how we can better assess the students,” Riffle said. “We are only able to enroll a certain amount of students, which means that not everyone can be in the program. When a student drops out of the program, it basically means that another student lost the opportunity to be in there instead. We want to make sure that we are able to put the students in the program that suits his or her needs appropriately.”

Bandstra said they are open to making changes based on the survey’s outcome.

“We know that our name alone can cause some confusion and this is something that we are taking a serious look at,” Bandstra said. “Do we need to rebrand our entire program? We are hoping to find out some of those things with this assessment.”

Programs offered by CTE include: Agriscience, Allied Health, Automotive Technology, Construction Trades, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Digital Media, Educator Academy, Graphic Arts, Health Occupations, IT: Networking, Mechatronics, and Welding (the last two currently combined as a Design Fabricating and Welding pilot)

Click here to take the survey.

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