Opportunities and Possibilities Abundant at Salem High School CTE Advisory Board Meeting

Posted on: November 15, 2023
Salem High School CTE Advisory Board Meeting

CTE Board Meeting draws 80 guests including business leaders, alumni and educators

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SALEM (Nov. 15, 2023) – The spacious warehouse-like woodworking area of Salem High School resembles more of a hard-hat construction zone than a place of education. That’s because the frame of a home is being built and wired for electricity.

Upstairs, a seemingly breathing, responsive, programmable mannequin attached to a monitor lies on a hospital bed awaiting care while, just s few feet away, an enlarged, three-dimensional image of a cadaver’s brain is being examined by visitors.

The silver radiance of the newly-opened culinary arts facilities could rival any high-end restaurant or banquet facility, as could the meal that was served on this night: herb-rubbed statler chicken breast, parmesan roasted carrots and mashed potatoes the main course; with deconstructed pumpkin cheesecake, crème anglaise, toffee sauce, graham cracker cookie, cinnamon chantilly cream, and spun sugar for dessert.

Whether SHS students choose a career path or college, they will be well-equipped with the invaluable hands-on experience, facilities and benefits offered by the SHS Career and Technical Education program.

Thursday’s CTE Advisory Board Meeting at the Black Cat Cafe, facilitated by CTE Director Mario Sousa, offered roughly 80 guests – area business representatives and partners, SHS alumni, educators, and CTE students – the CTE program’s progress, lofty future plans and a tour of facilities.

“I was extremely impressed with the turnout of businesses, parents, and students,” said Mr. Sousa. “However, we are still pushing to get more representation from post-secondary institutions and diversifying our board to match our student population.”

Currently, SHS CTE offers curriculum in Automotive Technology, Building and Property Maintenance, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Early Education and Care, Electrical, Medical Assisting, Programming/Web Design, and Graphic Design and Visual Communications.

New initiatives for the 2023-24 school year include curriculum in offshore wind maintenance, light and heavy equipment, welding, and information security.

The numbers behind the CTE program are as impressive as the breadth of offerings:

  • Among the 953 students at SHS, 594 are enrolled in at least one CTE course (62.3 percent).
  • Exploratory participation has increased from 209 students in 2022-23 to 221 this academic year.
  • By the end of 2023-24, the graduation rate of students enrolled in a CTE course is expected to reach 95 percent, up from 85 percent in 2022-23.
  • Enrollment in the Early Education and Care program has nearly doubled from 29 students (28 female, one male) to 53 (48 female, five male) the last two years.
  • Enrollment in the Medical Assisting program has increased from 10 students to over 40 students.
  • Effective this academic year, a partnership with Beverly High School has seen eight of its students enrolled in CTE coursework at SHS.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the presentation was the plethora of certifications students can achieve through the CTE program: 

  • OSHA 10 and 30-hour construction training
  • ServSafe food handling
  • First Aid, CPR/AED and CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant) training and certification
  • Adobe desktop publishing certification 
  • Google Analytics certification
  • Cybersecurity accreditation in COMPTIA+ and ISC2.

While the CTE program continues to enhance its curriculum, Mr. Sousa has another goal in mind to increase and diversify its enrollment.

“Our focus this year is to diversify our board both demographically and industry sector-wise,” he said. “Increasing our diversity will help break down biases for the different minority groups. Once students see more people that resemble themselves they will be more inclined to try something new. Once we have a diversified board we can start leveraging articulation agreements as well as other work-based learning opportunities.”

An open house scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 2 highlights an event-filled spring for the CTE program. Additionally, the next CTE Advisory Board meeting is slated for Thursday, Apr. 4, while the Career Fair will take place Thursday, Apr. 25.

The second annual CTE Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22.

Businesses and industry professionals interested in becoming involved with the CTE program at SHS should contact Mr. Sousa at msousa@salemk12.org. 

About Salem Public Schools

Salem Public Schools is an urban public school district in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is a small, diverse city with a proud maritime and immigrant history. Our leaders and our teachers are all passionate about education and understand the urgency of improving student achievement with equity and social-emotional needs as the lens we view all of our work through. We respect and value the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students and their families, and have a strong commitment to the Salem community. Salem Public Schools staff serve all of our students, regardless of ability or language. Salem Public Schools enrolls approximately 4,000 students across its eleven schools.