Humble ISD expands CTE curriculum from middle school

When Director of Career and Technical Education Larkin Le Sueur began lobbying the Humble Independent School District in Texas for CTE courses for younger students in 2015, the district was offering a handful at 10 colleges. . After a year-long effort by Le Sueur — and encouraged by projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which continue to warn of a need for qualified applicants for technical jobs — the district has more than doubled its elective offers at 12, with several grades and departments involved in an initiative to raise the profile of CTE.

A former middle school teacher himself, Le Sueur said the focus has been on integrating studies into grades six through eight, an effort that intensified at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. He said the college years are crucial in informing children of their options in CTE fields and giving them the opportunity to develop a passion for the subjects.

“(College) is my favorite, because kids are just coming out of those baby years where they did everything mom and dad said, and they want to be like mom and dad, to decide now [they] perhaps [their] own person,” Le Sueur said. “If you wait [to expose them to CTE studies] until they are in high school, it is too late. They’ve already decided whether school is cool or not. They have already decided whether or not they are going to have the same job as their mother or father. They have already decided whether or not they will go to university. If we don’t launch them appropriately for middle school, then it’s too late when they’re in high school.

Humble ISD’s new eight- to nine-week courses feature all 14 Texas-recognized CTE career groups, with a rotating roster of expert teachers covering different CTE-related topics in an “exploratory wheel,” Le Sueur said. . They come and bring their kit with material for the subject, whether it’s working on robots, 3D computers, or game software, to allow students to engage with the content.

Although the classes aren’t mandatory, Le Sueur said 1,800 sixth-grade students from the 10 colleges in the district are now cycling through them in the initiative’s second full year.

“By the end of the year, the intention is for them to be exposed to all of our career hubs…and they have a better idea than at the end of sixth year (which they want to study more )”, did he declare.

When students enter seventh grade, Le Sueur said, they take semester-long courses in the subjects that most interest them in the “Exploration Wheel” in sixth grade — one in the fall, another in spring. He said if students have room in their schedule for additional courses, they can add more CTE electives to their load. Then, in eighth grade, they can choose as an elective a year-long course in the subject they are most passionate about, thus receiving high school credits.

Le Sueur said the district also trains counselors at each school on how to engage students, K-12, on career paths and goals. Counselors meet with students twice a year to have hour-long conversations that have been developed with the CTE department, Le Sueur said. He said the district has had to subtract from counselors’ workload to accommodate these career conversations, but they’re opening the door for students to make more informed decisions.

Ultimately, Le Sueur said the goal of the initiative is to prepare students to make choices in high school about the career tracks and certification programs they learned about in college.

“They will be able to make decisions earlier, which will allow them to pursue chosen career paths while in high school,” he said. “They won’t waste money in college exploring a career that should have been done in middle school and high school. They will graduate with industry credentials and internship experience that will play directly into a well-paying job during college or an immediate lifelong career.

Giovanni Albanian

Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional football during his 15+ year journalism career. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.

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