In Their Own Words
Students, Department Officials and other CTE participants give their take on the current state of the industry
Editor’s Note: In this edition of In Their Own Words, CTE Student Advisory Committee Chair Ivana Nunez talks about her personal experiences serving with the group, the overall purpose of the DOE-created entity and why she feels the Student Advisory Council is an important part of the CTE improvement process.
Since its creation, the Career and Technical Education Advisory Commitee has worked with employers, colleges, schools, principals, assistant principals and teachers to improve the learning experience for CTE students. Until the 2010-11 school year, however, one important piece of the puzzle was missing: input from the students themselves.
The CTE Student Advisory Committee came into existence to fill this void. Through the committee, students voice their opinion on what works in the CTE system and what needed improvement in their CTE high schools.
The Student Advisory Committee has three major functions:
- To incorporate student voices and recommendations into the work of the CTE Advisory Council
- To gain additional insight into students’ views and needs concerning the delivery of CTE programs of study at the secondary level and postsecondary readiness
- To foster student participation in advocacy and leadership activities of the CTE Council and its industry commissions
The Committee is comprised of two representatives from each CTE high school, a junior and a senior, nominated by principals from among active members of the school’s student government or CTE student leadership. (In the case of schools that don’t yet have a full complement of classes, students are selected from the first two classes.)
Each representative serves a one year term, and can be re-nominated. Advisory Council Members, school/DOE staff and teachers are welcome to attend meetings but may only participate in the committee as observers. The group meets between two and four times a year, most recently in February at the New York Historical Society.
I became involved with the Student Advisory Committee as facilitator and Chair, through my participation in the Success Via Apprenticeship (SVA) program. SVA is a partnership between the Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers that provides CTE graduates the opportunity to gain three years of on-the-job training and two years of teaching experience in a technical field, along with college credits and compensation.
Currently, I am in my third year, working as an electrical installation teacher/apprentice. Through the Committee, I have enjoyed the opportunity to develop my leadership skills while working with some of the brightest and most committed CTE students in the City.
In the first year of the Committee’s existence, we surveyed participating students about what influenced them to choose their current school. We found that many students wished they’d had more information about CTE programs during the selection process. Students also were asked where they felt CTE schools were lacking, and identified three areas: recruitment, outreach and information and industry involvement.
After all the information was collected, CTE Advisory Council Chair Jack Powers presented the findings to the Council in an effort to show what they believed were the immediate needs of CTE schools. Council members were impressed with what they saw, realizing the importance of the CTE Student Advisory Committee—specifically, its capacity to help the Council grasp perspectives that they might have missed and ones that only students can see. We are currently in the process of using the students’ input to create more informational resources for future students and parents, and to strengthen ties to employers in key industries with CTE programs.
The CTE Student Advisory Committee serves both to facilitate student input in the citywide discussion around CTE, and to help build community within CTE by bringing together committed and ambitious students from many different programs and schools. I am very proud of our work, especially the ability to include student voices in the process of helping CTE schools excel.