February is CTE month. For those who are unaware, CTE in the world of education is defined as career and technical education, a term applied to schools, institutions, and educational programs that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation. As described by The Glossary of Education Reform, “career and technical programs—depending on their size, configuration, location, and mission—provide a wide range of learning experiences spanning many different career tracks, fields, and industries, from skilled trades such as automotive technology, construction, plumbing, or electrical contracting to fields as diverse as agriculture, architecture, culinary arts, fashion design, film making, forestry, engineering, healthcare, personal training, robotics, or veterinary medicine.”
Andy Rice works with Kassidy, a junior who attends his shop class at Mohawk High School.
Our mission at My Work My Future is to promote career pathways into the skilled trades. We reached out to Andy Rice, an amazing CTE shop teacher at Mohawk High School located in Marcola, Oregon. We asked about his background, how he became a CTE teacher and what he finds important about hands-on learning.
How long have you been at Mohawk? 16 years
Where did you work prior? I was hired as an elementary/middle school teacher in Marcola right after I graduated from Pacific University. After working in the District for 3 years, they discovered I had some construction experience and asked me to start a shop program at the high school. I’ve been in Marcola school system my entire career; 13 years at Mohawk High School.
Have you worked in the construction industry? I was fortunate enough to work for a private contractor for a little over a year when I started college. I took the knowledge gained from that experience and became a handyman while putting myself through the remaining years of my college career.
What is your favorite thing or things about teaching a hands-on curriculum? The question every student wants to know, and every teacher dreads hearing is “when will I ever use this?” When teaching hands on-classes, that question rarely comes up. That’s my favorite thing about these classes.
How important are CTE classes? CTE classes are essential. They give all students equitable access to learning. Everyone learns differently, quite a few of my students can learn from a book, or learn from listening to me talk, or getting help from a partner. ALL of my students learn when they are “doing.” My success is based on ALL my kids being successful. Believe it or not, in my construction math class, I actually have students thank me after a math lesson. How many math teachers can say that?
Would you like to add anything else? I have found that the relationships formed when you teach students from a CTE perspective is much stronger. I see it as I’m viewed more as a coach than a teacher. My kids know we are on the same team. They know I have knowledge and information that will actually help them and they want it. I am very fortunate to be a teacher, and equally fortunate to be a teacher at Mohawk High School.
Thank you Andy Rice for making a difference in the lives of our children!