Center for Applied Technology & Career Exploration
Rocky Mount, VA
Design and Implementation
Once the initial concept of a program for all eight graders and up to half of the ninth grade enrollment was established, district and building level administrators began meeting to discuss possible curriculum options. With a primary goal of preparing students for the workforce of the 21st Century, administrators first looked at research and studies to determine appropriate curriculum areas. Once these areas were established, a steering committee consisting of administrators and master teachers was forged. This group then established committees of teachers, parents, and business/industry representatives to guide the curriculum and facility development for each of the eight selected curriculum/module topics.
The Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration was conceived and developed around three primary goals:
All eighth grade students and ninth grade students who have elected to return for a semester attend CATCE. This student level was strategically targeted, because it is at this time that decisions and actions in school make the greatest impact upon post-secondary schooling options and career choice.
Students attend for a semester and explore three of eight career areas. These areas were selected based upon their potential for future growth and consist of:
Each career area is taught by both a master teacher who facilities the design of learning activities and an experienced content expert who has spent time in their chosen field and brings a unique perspective to the instructional setting. CATCE is committed to hands-on discovery learning and students are immersed in a wide array of problem-based activities that require students to seek answers to real-world problems. One project included an impact study on a proposed Interstate extension that was supposed to come through the county. Another activity required students to assess the status of the local Pigg River, to test the water for chemicals, sample invertebrate species, prepare reports, and to present their findings as if they were reporting at a scientific symposium.
Curriculum units cross traditional subject lines and emphasize the application of knowledge within the scope of problem solving. While students focus upon a career area, the core areas of math, social studies, language arts, and science are woven throughout the disciplines and resulting activities.
Technology is central to all of the units, and at any one time students may be found using digital video editing tools, MIDI keyboards and notation software, broadcast quality videocameras and audio recorders, as well as a plethora of computers, printers, and scanners. Teachers received a stipend for training in a variety of teaching methods but all training occurred outside of their regular teaching hours.
The unique facility also serves as a community resource and parts of the building are available for community meetings, teleconferencing, and distance learning. CATCE truly increases opportunity for continued learning for people throughout the community and across all age groups.