Randy Yohe Published

Career Technical Education Day At The Capitol Focused On Beginning Career Paths

Two high school students making cream puffs with chef's garb on.
Students from Mingo Central High School demonstrate their "Miners Cafe" on the road.
Conor Martin/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Innovation met education on Career Technical Education Day at the West Virginia Legislature Friday.

From offering baked goods to analyzing biometrics, West Virginia students put on a 2023 vocational show. 

You had to watch your step for all the robotic devices wheeling around the Capitol rotunda floor. More than 300 students from state high schools, comprehensive high schools and career technical education centers showcased their both practical and pioneering  programs. 

Deanna Canterbury-Penn, technical education coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, said the mission here is letting the lawmakers who decide on education funding see the career paths these students are pursuing for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

“Simulated workplaces are in every school for career technical education, so the students actually run companies in their prospective programs of study,” Canterbury-Penn said. “We want them to see that we are really making these kids’ careers and college ready to go out into the global workforce.”

What’s the difference between the shop and home economics classes of 25 years ago and what went on here today? The technological advances are obvious, but they say – don’t sell shop and home economics classes short. 

“We have everything from robotics to aerospace engineering. It is a little bit different from the shop and home econ classes back when I was in school, but we still do those things with building construction and we have a lot of baking and pastry and ProStart,” Canterbury-Penn said. “They just really have enhanced the learning for the kids and really put them on the spot to do and be able to go out into the workforce to do these things.”

Enhancing the old and embracing the new, that’s what much of the day’s secondary education was all about, and was on display.