Kettle Run High School’s career and technical education department received a regional “Creating Excellence Award” from Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright, on behalf of Governor Bob McDonnell, at a June 16 ceremony in Richmond. Gov. McDonnell and the Virginia Department of Education this month recognized outstanding programs of the private sector and local educators in creating, improving and promoting CTE programs. Kettle Run’s career and technical education department received the award for its career exploration assignment, a cross-curricular assignment that helps students explore career options while eliminating duplication of efforts among the department’s six teachers.
Meaghan Brill, agricultural teacher at KRHS, explained how the project evolved from discussion among her CTE colleagues.
“As a CTE department, the six of us were trying to help our students reach state competencies, some of which related to finding jobs and attaining career skills,” she said. “We realized we were overlapping in what we were doing in our classes so we came together and decided to design one large project that would better prepare our students for a career.”
The assignment is multi-layered. Students begin by researching one job in which they’re interested and writing a one-page paper on it. Secondly, they must prepare a resume, one that is completely factual, Ms. Brill said, reflecting personal experience and accomplishments. Students must write a cover letter to a potential employer; depending on the subject, this step may also include preparation of a portfolio of individual work as well, for instance, photographs of hairstyles rendered by cosmetology students or business cards by graphic design students. Students must fill out a job application and then participate in a mock interview conducted by a CTE teacher who is not their instructor. If students take a CTE course each semester, they have an opportunity to be interviewed twice in a year.
“We have had really positive feedback from it,” said Ms. Brill. “Several students said they have been through more interviews at Kettle Run than their siblings have been through in college.”
In conjunction with the career exploration assignment project, this year the CTE department organized a career fair, inviting businesses and companies representing a wide range of career fields. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions and hear the pros and cons of various professions. Participating in the career fair were Legends Catering, Fauquier Springs, Fauquier Hospital, Fauquier County Extension Service, Designs by Teresa, Shenandoah University, Eldon Farm, CMW Soil Consultants, Department of Defense, F1 Computer Solutions, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, Hardwood Artisans, Realty Direct, Virginia Department of Forestry, Campbell Paris Engineering, Bright Eye Designs, M.C. Dean, Jafra Cosmetic Products, Operational Intelligence, Tritek Corporation, Oak View Bank, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Haircuttery, James Madison University, Art Institute, Lord Fairfax Community College and the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
“We hope this will help students find something they’re interested in and entice them to think about getting vocational education after high school,” said Ms. Brill. “That was the idea behind the career fair.”
Three of Kettle Run’s CTE teachers – Ms. Brill, Bill Davidson and Karen Frye – along with Sarah Frye, the school division’s instructional supervisor of CTE – attended the June 16 luncheon in Richmond to receive a plaque in honor of their regional award. The other CTE teachers at KRHS are Tanya Smith, Cindi Drakeford and Debbie Toms. Ms. Brill said the six teachers were pleased that their collaborative effort received recognition.
“If our efforts were going to overlap, we thought we should work together and make it bigger – to reach out to our students and find a neat way to do it together,” she said. “Now the challenge is to tweak [the project] and make it even better.”