In this episode, host Joel Gagne is joined by Greg Edinger, Superintendent of the Vanguard Sentinel Career and Technology Center in Fremont, Ohio.

They discuss what parents need to know about career tech education, which is not what it used to be.

Greg describes career tech 50 years ago as a very different experience. The goal 50 years ago in career tech education was to train for a lifetime vocation, and academics were not really emphasized. The majority of the programs that existed revolved around agriculture, especially in northwest Ohio, which is where Vanguard Sentinel is located. Vocational education was often intended for students who did not go to college.

Today, many high-tech programs are being offered, to create pathways to college or quality careers. Greg says today’s career and tech centers feature incredible high-tech equipment that is used by employers in the real world.

“If you look back from 1968 to today, you might walk into a school and it might not look any different from 50 years ago—you still have your rows of desks in classrooms, you still have bells moving kids around probably every 45 minutes to an hour,” Greg says. “And in the career centers… all that equipment is 100% updated to the new technology today—anything from an electrical program to a building trades program.”

Greg and Joel talk about how career tech education fits in with graduation requirements, as well as college and career readiness.

“Now it’s college and career ready—in the past they would say college or career ready,” Greg says. “It really should be just career ready, because college is a pathway definitely to certain careers but if you don’t know what you want to do as a career, how do you know what that need is? And I think that’s what the career center offers, is that opportunity to get a skillset in every career, whether you need that college or not.”

Joel asks about the expectations for teachers in career tech education.

“The career tech teachers who make the choice to come into teaching, one, you know for a fact that they’re in it for the kids because many of them are coming from big careers and chances are they’re taking a pay cut to do that,” Greg says. “But secondly, they have many years of experience in their field. So you’re getting a teacher who, whatever career field you’re choosing to go into, they’ve been there and they’ve done that.”

Greg also explains the extracurricular activities that are available for students at career centers, which can include competitions in your career field against other schools.

He also discusses the multi-faceted effort to get students and parents aware of and interested in career tech, from engaging business and industry partners to elected officials.

“Because we can’t do that alone, to change that mindset that career technical education is different from 50 years ago,” Greg says. “It’s all of us together to beat that drum to say, you know what, take advantage of career tech because there’s some great opportunities.”

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