By Ambrosia Grant

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The rewriting of Louisiana’s Career and Technical Education Curriculum is exciting and impactful work that will shift the focus away from the idea that college and career is an “either or” decision. I currently serve as Academic Dean at Helen Cox High School in Harvey, LA and I am also member of the Louisiana Educator Voice Fellowship. I truly feel that the work we are doing will empower every educator to impact generations of learners in becoming both college and career ready.

A travesty occurs when students graduate without the belief that they can be successful.  This lack of self-efficacy could be due to transferable skill sets, lack of knowledge of postsecondary options, or simply being unaware of their own gifts, passions and talents. As I write this, I am thinking of a student I knew who graduated as valedictorian of her class. Her name was* Cassie. Cassie graduated without a plan. She confided in me that she felt overwhelmed when she began to receive college acceptance letters and scholarship offers.

She would be the first in her family to attend college, but suddenly she was not sure she was ready. The prospect of accepting an offer out of state was frightening for her; but not as frightening as the idea of college itself. Cassie decided to attend trade school instead, but soon dropped out. The last time I saw Cassie she was working a food service job, and still unsure of her next steps.

There are many students like Cassie who are still searching for direction after high school. Every student needs a sense of self-efficacy - a belief that they can be successful in their chosen path. When a student graduates equipped with job-ready skills, along with certifications that allow them to earn;  this helps to curb the urgency and anxiety of planning their next steps. When a student receives effective mentoring and; job shadowing, along with strategic internship and externship opportunities they began to have a sense of where their gifts and talents could best be realized in the workforce. Even if they are the first in their family to do so, they will be well prepared to take their next step.

Career and Technical Education should empower students to take advantage of a plethora of options before them.  In order to meet the diverse needs of our students, real world career exploration and strategic partnerships between school communities and businesses will be an important part of preparing students for both college and career readiness.

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