Career and technical education: The importance of preparing our students

By: 
Dr. Linda Filpula
Superintendent, Laurel Public Schools

Career and Technical Education courses teach students practical life and employment skills to meet the challenges and demands of the post-secondary workforce. Laurel High School currently offers students pathways in Agriculture, Business, Marketing, Family and Consumer Science and Industrial Technology. While these programs serve students well, we must expand these opportunities to better prepare our youth for the ever-changing job market. This year we are expanding the FACS program with a ProStart class that helps prepare students for employment in the field of culinary arts. Students completing a two-year program receive a National ProStart certificate providing them an edge in their job search or further education. The Laurel FFA Alumni Foundation is building a new greenhouse for the Agriculture program, and other classes (FACS, Biology, and Elementary Science) will also be able to use the space to give students hands-on learning experiences. The long-term plan is to incorporate a Farm to School program in which the educational and real-life applications are endless. Further, with two regional hospitals in Billings, we should be providing pathways for students in the Health Science arena. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, (2015) “employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs.” LHS currently has no offerings in this area, and we should. In Laurel, we have a refinery, railroad, automotive dealerships, and manufacturing companies that are seeking highly skilled applicants for good paying jobs. By partnering with our local entities, we can provide students with the necessary skills to seek employment in our community.
Students excel when they have choices to pursue their passions in becoming a productive and educated citizen. We are committed to our district mission statement: Dedicated to the individual development of each student, every day, without exception. Not all students choose to attend a four-year college to attain a bachelor degree. Most students will need to acquire some type of post-secondary training, certification, or internship to attain employment opportunities aligned to their interests. By working with our local businesses, we can better prepare our students for these opportunities while also meeting the needs of local employers.
On Nov. 7, a bond election will be held to determine if the Laurel District will move forward with their Educational Master Plan. An important component of this plan is the conversion of South Elementary school into the Laurel High School Career and Technical Campus. Please educate yourself about CTE and how it can benefit our students and community. Information regarding these issues can be found on the homepage of the district website at www.laurel.k12.mt.us. You can also contact me directly at 628-3356 with any questions.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to become informed on these important issues.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m., Eagles Hall, 313 W. Main, 628-4503
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961

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