Red Oak ISD CTE Program Prepares Students For Successful Careers

students welding
Red Oak CTE students participate in a welding competition. Photo courtesy of Red Oak ISD

Red Oak ISD CTE Program Prepares Students for Successful Careers with Hands-On Training and Industry Partnerships

Technically speaking, the folks in Red Oak School District simply excel when it comes to their Career and Technical Education program.

From land to space (including outer space), students in the program have, for decades, grown the program into one of the best around. The department has grown to establish large programs, such as FFA/agriculture and welding, and is expanding into aerospace engineering and Esports.

Meanwhile, they also have quality programming in computer science, health science, cosmetology, auto-mechanics, construction, masonry, graphic design, audio/visual, and networking.

“The continued growth of Red Oak has created new opportunities for students, and as a CTE department, our goal is to prepare them for success in the continuous changes that industries create,” said CTE Assistant Principal Jennifer Jeter.

CTE Construction Program

Among their recent projects, CTE students are in the process of designing and constructing a conference table for the company Qarbon Aerospace in Red Oak. When finished, it will be five feet wide and 16 feet long. It will be used at Quarbon in one of the front office conference rooms.

Qarbon is donating the wood for the table.

Jeter said another project that has been discussed is around 200 crates that Qarbon needs to be built, which the CTE construction program can complete.

The students also learn to work with a spool gun machine. A spool gun is for aluminum welding with a mig welder (generally used for large and thick materials).

“Since consumables are expensive to purchase for students to practice using a spool gun, Qarbon has offered to donate aluminum that they no longer need,” Jeter said.

The ROISD CTE has a partnership with Texas State Technical College, Bombardier, and Qarbon, with the assistance of the Texas Workforce Commission for an internship/pre-apprentice program. The program is in the development stage of the curriculum and certification alignment, with implementation starting with the 2023-2024 school year.

“The plan for students to be in the program has two pathways. One way is a campus CTE program in which students take or have completed CTE classes in engineering, robotics, manufacturing, computer science, welding, and business,” Jeter explained.

Students during their junior and/or senior year will be able to take the Practicum Level 4 course in the CTE pathway they are completing so they can leave campus to go intern at Qarbon or Bombardier.

“Another option that we are providing students with is the partnership program with TSTC through the aviation maintenance program,” Jeter continued. “While this is in the development stages, the goal is to have students work through a certification training program at TSTC to focus on a specific aviation maintenance certification to go straight to a pre-apprenticeship that will ultimately lead to career opportunities.”

As part of their education, about 40 CTE students were recently given tours of Qarbon and Bombardier. The students were in the pathway programs of engineering, robotics, computer science, and welding.

“Students learned industry standards that are being produced in aerospace and how they can be a part of an industry that is creating new opportunities with cutting-edge aviation technology,” Jeter said.

Grace Cowger is in a practicum graphic design class and she placed first in the State National Career Development Association Poetry and Art Contest. She is also a Robotic Club team leader.

“In the graphic design section of Red Oak’s CTE department, I’ve learned the principles and elements of design, allowing me to create with intention,” Cowger said. “I’ve also honed my sense of aesthetics through practice designing for clients in the community.”

The CTE department has entered numerous competitions, including the Ellis County Expo ag mechanics show and the animal and swine show. Among the awards were numerous first-place ribbons by ag mechanics, graphic design placed first, second, and third NCDA Poetry and Art Contest this year, and welding Future Farmers of America received a blue ribbon at the Fort Worth Stock Show.

“Our FFA program has the largest chapter in the nation with around 425 students,” Jeter said.

Robotics Team Ranked Among Top 50 In The State

Jeter also noted that the Red Oak chapter of the Texas Association of Future Educators also had four students qualify for state competition. Also, the robotics team is currently ranked among the top 50 in the state and is looking to qualify for the national competition in Houston.

Jeter stressed that it is important for students not far away from entering the workforce to have strong connections to local companies.

“Local business connections are invaluable for CTE programs to be successful. The ultimate goal for student success is to ensure that they are career ready when they graduate from Red Oak High School,” he said. “Having support in the community gives students opportunities to learn, work, and/or intern at companies during their high school years and can lead to a lifelong successful career.”

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters