Gov. Kate Brown visits South Eugene HIgh School Nov. 1.Photo by Meerah Powell.

South Eugene High School Students Discuss Education

Gov. Brown tours Career Technical Education programs

South Eugene High School senior Noshin Rahman is a reporter for the school’s newspaper, The Axe. Rahman plans to attend college next year and is part of the Career and Technical Education Journalism program. Although undecided about her career path, she says she credits the journalism CTE program for equipping her with essential career skills. 

Rahman was among the students, school board members, educators and Eugene tech companies Gov. Kate Brown met with Nov. 1 in a South Eugene High classroom to learn more about the impacts of CTE.

According to the Oregon Department of Education, CTE gives students the “academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers.”

Brown asked Rahman why she chose the journalism CTE program.

 “Honestly, I was a really terrible writer so I wanted to push myself,” Rahman said. “They really pushed me to be more creative and get better at writing. Also, it’s really fun for me to go out in the community and interview people.”

 “I think that writing is a really important skill regardless of what field you go into, and I think having good writing skills can carry you a very long way,” the governor replied.

Rahman said the journalism track “has really taught me a lot of future career skills like learning to interview others and how to write better. Definitely having internships available for high schoolers is really important because in the future, if you want to do internships, you need the experience beforehand or else they won’t even consider you.” 

South Eugene’s CTE programs range from classroom training for technology and computer science programs — including web design, game development and digital music production courses — to hands-on experience in a kitchen classroom and in the school’s daycare program. 

Students in the culinary CTE program catered the meeting, and the program is also a professional catering service available for hire in Eugene. The students prepared yellow Thai curry, jasmine rice, a fresh herb salad and Thai ice tea with coconut macaroons for dessert. 

The CTE program is supported by Connected Lane County, a group of school districts, local businesses, colleges and universities which aims to prepare students for careers out of high school or college. Elevate Lane County, a pilot program, was specifically designed to address the missing link between classroom learning and workforce preparedness, according to Connected Lane County Director Heidi Larwick. 

“There was this huge disconnect between what our students were learning in the classroom and what they were actually able to do out in the work force,” Larwick said. “It was companies coming together saying the talent that is coming out is not ready for the work force — they don’t have the right technical skills.”

But now teachers can receive additional CTE training and accreditation to teach courses like Computer and Information. Larwick said Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) CTE program advisor Mary Taylor completed an externship, funded by Connect Lane County, in the tech industry.

“It’s great for a teacher to have a CTE endorsement because they are more employable in high schools, they are given more classes,” Larwick said.

Brown toured the CIS CTE classroom, where she talked with students and asked about their projects. At the end of her tour, the governor said she was going to consider these programs when drafting her annual budget. 

“I’m going to really work hard to make sure that we have the resources to fully fund career and technical ed,” Brown said. “I think every student across the state should have access to these programs — it engages students.” She added that 92 percent of students in the programs graduate from high school, a stark contrast to Oregon’s statewide graduation rate of 75 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The governor wants South Eugene High students to testify before the Oregon State Legislature about CTE programs. 

Brown said she talked to a student in the culinary program who actually intends to become a surgeon. That student “felt strongly that the culinary program taught her a lot about teamwork,” Brown said. “I think it’s really important for students to explore. That’s how sometimes you find what I call your ninja skill, your hidden skill.”