Liz McCormick Published

W.Va. Middle Schoolers Will See More CTE Opportunities This Fall

Middle School STEM, Robotics

A push to get more career technical education (CTE) experiences in West Virginia middle schools will launch in the new school year.

West Virginia lawmakers on the Joint Standing Committee on Education received an update Monday about the initiative.

Rick Gillman, director of career technical education at the West Virginia Department of Education, told the committee that while these types of programs exist in many counties, he and his staff wanted to develop something for all the middle school teachers in the state.

“There’s always been career exploration, and counties can do things locally, but we wanted to actually develop a course that counties can use that covers all nationally recognized career clusters,” Gillman said. “[Bringing] CTE into the middle schools, and we wanted this to be hands-on.”

Gillman said he worked with elementary and middle school teachers across the state to develop the course called Discover Your Future CTE Exploratory Program. It offers learning opportunities within all 16 of the nationally recognized career clusters.

These clusters cover a variety of possible career paths. They include:

  1. Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  2. Architecture & Construction
  3. Arts, A/V Technology & Communications
  4. Business Management & Administration
  5. Education & Training
  6. Finance
  7. Government & Public Administration
  8. Health Science
  9. Hospitality & Tourism
  10. Human Services
  11. Information Technology
  12. Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
  13. Manufacturing
  14. Marketing
  15. Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)
  16. Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

“We want [students] to take these career experiences, this career exploration, and help them try to answer the question: what do I want to do in high school? What do I want to do after high school? What do I want to do when I grow up?” Gillman said.
Each cluster takes two weeks and has four to five modules that a teacher will go through with their students. Each cluster also has a designated coordinator that a teacher can contact if they need advice or guidance on teaching the cluster.

There are more than 80 separate lesson plans available, according to Gillman.

“We wanted to provide flexibility in delivery, depending on the students’ needs in the county,” Gillman said. “And any West Virginia certified middle school teacher can teach this course. So a county doesn’t have to worry about staffing, adding someone else new. Any teacher they have on staff can teach this.”

Gillman said 48 middle schools in 31 counties have signed up for training this summer, but training is not mandatory.

The new course has been in development since October 2021.