The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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From classroom to career, CTE Center gets students Future Ready

By Sadie Johnson

“When will I use this in real life?”

A question posed by many students is one Frisco ISD’s “future-ready” mission aims to solve, focusing on the long-term success of students and preparing them for what comes after graduation. 

The implementation of the future-ready curriculum spans the district, but the focus on career preparation is highlighted at the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, which is home to over 25 programs of “real-world” courses of study.

“Our [CTE Center] is very strong, and it’s actually one that schools from all across the country come and tour to learn about our programs,” Education and Training Practicum teacher Nicky Fryman said. “The atmosphere is a little bit more focused, we don’t have as many things that can be distracting, and the level of professionalism is a little bit higher of what we expect our kids.”

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The CTE Center’s emphasis on career-based education goes beyond the classroom as students put their skills into practice around the campus through various practicum or internship classes. During passing period, students can buy freshly baked goods from Culinary Arts students or stop and shop at “The Spot,” the campus store run by Practicum in Marketing students.

“[The students] run store operations, which is everything from deciding what merchandise we want to offer and figuring out the profit margin, to recruiting students to run the store during passing periods,” Practicum in Marketing teacher Elizabeth Gray said. “So they’ve got to learn how to recruit, train, and then supervise people in a remote fashion. I also have students that manage the financial side, keeping the books, and then there’s a team that takes care of store signage and then campus event promotions.”

[The students] run store operations, which is everything from deciding what merchandise we want to offer and figuring out the profit margin, to recruiting students to run the store,

— Practicum in Marketing teacher Elizabeth Gray

The practicum courses also often take students off campus, with Practicum in Marketing students getting jobs in customer-facing roles, Education and Training Practicum students working as student teachers in elementary and middle schools, and Practicum in Government students interning at law firms during the school day.

“The chance to intern at a law firm as a high schooler was really too great to pass up,” Lone Star senior Nitin Sudarsanam said. “Working in a professional business environment has been a great experience, and I’ve learned so much about professional interaction and how to communicate ideas.”

The content of practicum courses differs by pathway, but many students have similar takeaways from their time participating: employable skills.

“I’m involved in the Certified Nursing Assistant program, and they teach us not only the textbook stuff but the real life stuff we need to learn,” Independence junior Sumehra Hannan said. “So communication skills, how to talk to patients effectively, as well as understanding things like cultural barriers that impact your communication with patients.”

A future-ready benefit of the CTE Center is that it provides students the chance to gain early experience in different fields before further pursuing them in college and their adult lives.

My students get to have a dry run, a dress rehearsal and get a little taste of what it’s really like to be a teacher,

— Education and Training teacher Nicky Fryman

“My students get to have a dry run, a dress rehearsal and get a little taste of what it’s really like to be a teacher, which I didn’t get until I was a senior in college,” Fryman said. “I can’t tell you how many student peers I had in college that realized this is not for [them], but already paid four years of college for this career. My kids get that experience when they’re juniors in high school, so they really know when they leave that they want to do that, and some leave and realize they don’t.”

Through the implementation of goal-setting, evaluations, and exit interviews, teachers such as Fryman have been able to see the tangible benefits of CTE programs.

“The principals interview the students at the end of each year, and every year I get feedback that my students interviewed better than any candidates interviewed for a job or that they better email me when they’re done with college,” she said. “And there’s been several who go back, and they are now a teacher in the school where they interned. It comes full circle.”

This story was originally published on Wingspan on January 23, 2024.