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Mapleton high schools create career and technical education pathways for students

Mapleton Public Schools is busy creating new career and technical education (CTE) opportunities for high school students mere months after the community voted in favor of a mill levy override to expand them. These opportunities will help students develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to be successful and workforce ready after high school.

“Parents have told us they want their kids to graduate with skills they can get a job with, that they can feed their family with,” said Mapleton Director of Career and Technical Education Chris Byrd. “College isn’t the only path for everyone and as a community and a nation, we’re embracing that.” 

Students learn construction

Byrd is working with each of the District’s seven high schools to identify and launch CTE pathways that complement their specific school models. Mapleton Early Career Preparatory School (MEC Prep) just launched the first CTE pathway, the CTE Alternative Cooperative Education (ACE) Pathway. Student opportunities in this pathway are created in collaboration with educators, business representatives, and community stakeholders and create locally responsive, relevant work-based and school-based learning experiences. 

Currently, 12 MEC students are getting on-the-job understanding of construction trades and training in a partnership with the nonprofit trade school BuildStrong Academy. Students travel to the academy’s site twice a week, where they learn the foundational skills of construction, from proper measuring and cutting to plumbing and electrical work. In addition to high school credits, they are earning college credit from Front Range Community College, an OSHA safety certification, and a pre-apprenticeship certification.  

Additional MEC Prep CTE Career Development Pathway courses will be offered in the fall. Participating students will be members of the Successful Career Students of Colorado (SC)2 career and technical student organization (CTSO), which supports ongoing development in human relations, employability, career awareness, and leadership.  

Other Mapleton high schools are hoping to launch their CTE pathways this fall. Academy High School, a STEM-based school that was already offering health science classes, is designing a pathway for students to earn certifications in areas like phlebotomy and nursing. Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA), an arts school with a technology lab that was already teaching design, is drawing up a pathway to offer opportunities for college credits and certifications that lead to careers in digital art.

Some other CTE pathways schools are exploring include digital media and communications, teaching, and business administration. Most high schools are planning to launch their CTE pathway by the fall of 2024. 

Byrd, who has worked for the District in multiple capacities for almost three decades, said he is most excited that CTE will bring more relevance to the instruction schools are already giving. 

“The learning will match what the students want to do after they graduate, so it’s more than they have to take a certain math class simply because of their school level,” he said. “Now, it can be they take classes because they will see what they want to do with their lives and that matters to help them fulfill their dreams.”