Practical arts department implements new curriculum to certificate students to improve their skill sets


Amelia Howell

Classes which implement certifications include Culinary, Construction and Cybersecurity as these classes are supported by the CTE program.

With students returning to school in person, SCHS practical arts department has been slowly testing and implementing a new process for students, involving learning outside of the classroom at one’s own pace. These test trials are in response to new Career Technical Education program guidelines.

“What the Practical Arts department is trying to do is we are trying to get every single kid certificated in something, whether it be OSHA for Construction, or the Food Handling certificate for Culinary Arts, or whether it’s the Cisco Cybersecurity certificates for my classes,” computer technology teacher Christina Mehl said.

The new curriculum is still in the works as it was implemented at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Currently, it does not affect entry-level pathway classes, such as Exploring Computer Science. The curriculum is focused on classes that are more supported by the CTE program, like Culinary, Construction and Cybersecurity, which allows students to have a more “hands-on” experience.

“My students can take certificate programs through some of the resources we offer, but it is not a requirement as both of mine are entry-level pathway classes,” computer technology teacher Brian Van Dyck said.

According to Mehl, students can work at their own pace, taking online courses on sanctioned websites that explore curricular topics. Presenting a certificate means students have completed the course. Currently, certifications minimally impact a student’s grade, as a part of the pilot process. Once fully implemented, however, many students can expect their progress to count toward their overall grade.

“Hopefully by the end of the year, we will have it all mapped out and ready to go, and then starting the next year, that will be an absolute requirement, 20 percent of your grade or 10 percent of your grade, whatever teachers decide they want to put onto it,” Mehl said.

Students are encouraged to join certain websites to further their skills, either through team-building or independent work.

“She (Mehl) did recommend students to do this one thing called TryHackMe, a website where you learn to hack. There’s a team capture the flag but hacking,” senior Mohammed Zaffar said.

The Practical Arts Department is also considering rolling out the certification stages to every class if possible, so that students are able to obtain skills they want to use in their future field.

“It impacts their grades rather than affects their grades because if they’re pursuing all the requirements to reach the certification stage, we’re going to see an improvement in skillset and knowledge,” Van Dyck said.

Other teachers outside practical arts, like art teacher Abbey Sinclair, are also considering certification.

“I would definitely add it to my class once I figure out what program we want to use,” Sinclair said.