ICYMI - Building Future-Ready Students, The Wylie Way

Reprinted from The Wylie Chamber of Commerce
Connection Magazine, April/May 2023

Jun 27, 2023
Staff Reports

In 2013, the Texas Legislature made history by approving House Bill 5, which made significant changes to the state’s graduation requirements for high school students. The bill was designed to create more flexibility and opportunity for students to pursue career and technical education (CTE) pathways while still meeting graduation requirements. Two years later, the 60X30 Texas plan was created which aims to ensure that at least 60% of the 25–34-year-old Texas population hold a certificate or degree by 2030. Both pieces of legislation played a key role in CTE programs that are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue careers in a variety of fields. By incorporating CTE programs into the high school curriculum, students can gain hands-on experience in their chosen field and prepare for postsecondary education or the workforce.    

Connecting Students with Their Future

Preparing all students for a successful life after high school is one of the primary goals of Wylie ISD. By combining academic instruction with hands-on training and experience, CTE programs can help students develop the technical, communication, problem-solving, and collaboration skills that are essential for success in the 21st-century workforce. Wylie ISD alongside area partners constantly reevaluates the course offering and alignment with the current workforce needs. 

Wylie ISD provides all students the opportunity to enroll in CTE courses that are meaningful, relevant, and aligned with challenging academic standards as well as real-world industry demands. With more than 30 Career Experiences available, Wylie students can choose an academic pathway that connects their areas of interest with their high school education goals. Students have access to robust, technology-rich opportunities for career exploration in a dozen career areas.

“Our area businesses have been wonderful to partner with and the Wylie EDC has led the charge in assisting Wylie ISD,” says Jason Hudson, Wylie ISD Director of CTE & Career Connections. “The workforce industry needs future employers that possess twenty-first-century skills and Manufacturing Month, Career Day, and Internships help us close the “education to workforce” gap.” 

Students take courses in a series, beginning with an intro course, followed by a core course, then students complete the pathway with an advanced course and practicum. Practicum courses consist of job shadowing or an internship either within the district or through a partnering business.

“Amazing Experiences”

Other practicums and internships can be arranged in specific situations where a student has an interest and skill that aligns with a district need. WHS senior Sophie Karlovich is one of these students. Sophie is in both the education and audio/visual programs of study. When the district communications team needed assistance, Sophie decided to apply to enhance her skills. The district paired her with Tristen Rouse, the district’s video producer and a certified teacher.

“Wylie ISD has not only provided me with the necessary knowledge to prepare me for my future career, but they have also given me actual experience opportunities,” says Sophie. “The classes available in Wylie have taught me so much about my future career choice and my practicum gave me amazing experiences for my resumes, vast amounts of new knowledge, and the chance to make connections within the field.”

Mr. Rouse says the benefit is twofold. “She’s been a huge help. Sophie took a lot of weight off my shoulders so I can focus on the more challenging aspects of video production. She’s learning a lot too, and she will be able to shoot and edit some of her own video assignments by the end of the practicum.” 

Building Their Future

Quality partnerships with business, industry and the Wylie community are instrumental in ensuring that students graduate with the technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare them for postsecondary education and careers in emerging professions. The district created “Building Your Future Day,” an enhanced career day event that introduces select Wylie ISD high school seniors who have shown interest in manufacturing, construction, and other areas to the exciting opportunities in the industry.

These students are in a school pathway in either Architecture, Engineering, Welding, Construction, HVAC, Law Enforcement, Cybersecurity, or Robotics. By participating in the Building Your Future event, companies will be able to access potential new hires or interns, share the real stories of working in the industry and hopefully impact their career paths and futures.

The 2nd Annual “Building Your Future Day” will be on April 4th at the Birmingham Agriculture Center. 

Taking Their Skills to the Next Level

For many students, this hard work ends with an industry-based certification, internship, job, or scholarship for technical school.

Wylie ISD students passed 893 certification exams this past school year. Each program of study has an opportunity for students to complete an industry-recognized certification, with many students earning more than one. Advanced level certifications provide Wylie ISD students a head start in the industry.

Students that are offered an internship or job coming out of high school are celebrated at the district’s annual “signing day” event where students, the businesses, parents, and community members are invited to celebrate these accomplishments.

Wylie East student Michael Emo took part in last year's signing day after completing his internship with AdVent Air. Michael completed the HVAC pathway and was fully prepared for the workforce.

“The CTE program at Wylie ISD is an amazing program in which students have the ability to gain real-world skills and knowledge outside of the typical classroom setting, says Emo. “This program provides students with the opportunity to learn hands-on for careers such as welding, construction, HVAC, and many more. This hands-on training is how I was able to get an internship at an HVAC company over the past summer.”

“Students like Michael leave Wylie ISD with the knowledge on how to install and test an HVAC system,” says program instructor Ronnie Bayless. “They get hands-on experience in troubleshooting residential and commercial systems. This opens doors for students that lead directly to high-paying jobs in the HVAC industry.”

This year’s Signing Day will be on May 9th at the Wylie City Hall in the Council Chambers. The public is invited.

By providing these types of experiences and opportunities, the educators at Wylie ISD can help students become career-ready and confident in their abilities to succeed in the workforce.