2018-04-25 / Editorial

Local students show what it takes to beat the odds in career paths

Overcoming obstacles and stereotypes to achieve success in career and technical education (CTE) programs, five Lapeer County-area students were among 63 students statewide named winners of the 2018 Breaking Traditions Awards. The high honors were recently announced by State Superintendent Brian Whiston.

The annual Breaking Traditions Awards recognize high school and college students who have demonstrated success in CTE programs that are nontraditional to their gender. “As we continue to focus on building greater talent here in Michigan, it is important to overcome perceived barriers and recognize the efforts of these students and the programs that helped them,” said Whiston.

The Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education oversees high school instructional programs that teach students skills in a specific career cluster. Most programs offer early college credit opportunities to provide a seamless transition to postsecondary education, which is a key strategy to help Michigan become a Top 10 education state in 10 years.

In our community, high school students attain career instruction programs at the Lapeer County Education and Technology Center in Attica Township — operated by the Lapeer County Intermediate School District.

It is there at Ed-Tech that five area students received their training and helped them overcome obstacles. Named 2018 winners of the Breaking Traditions Award were:

• Kaytlin Newton, a North Branch High School student in the Agriscience Program;

• Angela Gross, a Lapeer High School student enrolled in the Construction Trades Program;

• Shelby Schlopert, enrolled in the Welding and Machining Technology Program;

• Alixandra Swett, a Lapeer High School student in Ed-Tech’s Public Safety Careers Program;

• Riley Tanis from Tuscola County, is enrolled in Ed-Tech’s Health Science Professions I and II Program.

These outstanding students are preparing themselves to enter a career that will benefit them individually and benefit Michigan by increasing diversity in our state’s workforce. “We again raise up the accomplishments of students who stand as role models for peers who may be considering such a career path,” Whiston said.

To qualify, the students studying at Ed-Tech had to: complete a CTE program that is nontraditional for his/her gender; be enrolled in a high school or career center program during the 2017-2018 school year; and be nominated by a teacher, counselor, administrator, or other staffer employed by the student’s school or career center.

Among other requirements, the local Ed-Tech students also had to have a solid academic standing as well as an acceptable citizenship and disciplinary history. The standout students also had to actively recruit other students into programs nontraditional for their gender. The award winners also mentored other students in CTE programs nontraditional for their gender. The applicants had to provide two letters of support and write a brief narrative explaining obstacles faced in their chosen career, plus key accomplishments.

Ed-Tech and the Michigan Dept. of Education are investing in Michigan’s future by helping ensure that our children are career and college ready and have the skills the jobs of today and jobs of tomorrow demand. Career and technical education offers Lapeer County students and their peers across the state a head start on the path to attain the skillsets that so many local companies are seeking yet often are unable to find in the available workforce.

The County Press has frequently written and editorialized on the importance of educators to speaking frankly with today’s youth to encourage them to consider career paths that are in high demand by employers. Overcoming obstacles and stereotypes to achieve success in career and technical education starts at home and continues with middle and high schools teachers and counselors who ensure that their students know they have the opportunity to do reach their career goals, regardless of gender.

We congratulate the Ed-Tech students who were nominated by their teachers and school staff who believed and supported them in their career path, and were subsequently named winners of the 2018 Breaking Traditions Award.

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