- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) - A new, innovative way to not only facilitate the current secondary educational system, but enhance future learning opportunities is at the core of Career and Technical-Education (CTE) in South Dakota.

That was why Gov. Dennis Daugaard visited Vermillion High School on Oct. 17, as he took some time to discuss the current CTE workings at the school, and also take a look at the new Builders Choice incubator that is set to be running within a month.

Career and technical education is a term applied to schools, institutions and educational programs that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies and career preparation, the Vermillion Plain Talk (https://bit.ly/1CRTKuQ ) reported.

Programs offer both academic and career-oriented courses, and many provide students with the opportunity to gain work experience through internships, job shadowing, on-the-job training and industry-certification opportunities.

“I am very excited by the dual-credit interest shown by the juniors and seniors all across the state,” Daugaard said after meeting with members of the Vermillion School District office and the high school. “The numbers are higher than we hoped it would be and that’s a very good thing. That means they will get some credit toward a postsecondary degree within institutions here in South Dakota. Their chance of attending an institution in South Dakota and succeeding goes up if they have credit under their belt already when they begin.”

One of the major focuses for CTE relations in the high school relate to dual-credit hours - earning credits in a college course that can go toward both current secondary educational work and a future collegiate degree.

In the past, the high school has had dual-credit programs affiliated with Sanford and the university, and now they have added the Builders’ Choice program that can also aid students toward potentially working toward future vocational jobs after graduation.

The governor said that the key to a dual-credit program’s success is making sure the students stay dialed in.

“Getting the information out there and having them succeed at the first one try,” Daugaard said. “It’s suddenly different being spoon-fed by a teacher in the classroom who is always watching you and overseeing your work to see if you are keeping up. You are online and dependent on your own self-discipline and pacing to keep up and do well. It’s easy to get behind and fail.”

Vermillion School District Superintendent Mark Froke said that the Builders’ Choice program is not yet a dual or concurrent credit course, but it the idea is in the works.

Still, they are putting more Vermillion students in better positions for their futures.

Coursework for “Residential Construction” will be of primary focus within the new building.

“I’d have to put our as one of the top ventures,” Froke said. “A business such as Builders Choice is invested in their materials and their equipment in this project. That’s one thing I am proud of is that we’re creating this partnership with the goal in mind to train students to go out and work right out of high school if they want or move on to postsecondary. That’s the great value and the value to the business, Builders Choice, is a support for a work force they are struggling to find currently.”

The building, located just south behind the high school, should be ready within two weeks according to Froke and could be operational soon after completion of the structure.

“We will be talking about moving equipment and materials in pretty rapidly before the snow flies,” Froke said. “We’re proud of the fact that we have been able to work with local contractors like Nick Slattery and Kalins will be doing the heating and Todd’s Electric will be doing the electrical work.”

Froke said the initial hype will create a buzz, but ultimately to keep the project going and sustainable, a number of people will have to combine efforts to make it longstanding.

“It has to be a team effort and work from everyone,” Froke said. “The guidance counselors, the instructors, the principal’s office, myself, the school board, everyone has to be on board supporting the program. We plan on keeping it on the schedule for a two-hour block from here on out. So that the fact the building is here and we will have it on the schedule will go a long ways to sustain this project on a long-term basis.”

Daugaard said that he hopes to keep motivating the state and its schools to keep projects like these and dual-credit programs on the forefront of newer educational movements.

“I will continue to work with schools to encourage students,” Daugaard said. “It just depends on the leadership within the schools.”

Froke was honest with his assessment of the governor’s work.

“With you being out there promoting it that makes a huge difference in bringing all players together,” Froke said. “The more you can talk about it, the more it helps us here.”

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