Career and Technical Education
Milton Hershey’s words are still the cornerstone of our approach to education today
Career and Technical Education has been rooted in Milton Hershey School’s history for more than 100 years. Founders Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine were intentional about incorporating training into the school’s curriculum so students would learn the necessary skills to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
As the workforce has transformed, so too has the school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. Today’s curriculum has evolved to include STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), problem-solving principles, and hands-on, technical training that align with the current job market to prepare students for 21st century careers.
Studies show that students with a career concentration do better in all areas of high school. By expanding the career technical education program, we’re better preparing our students for success. MHS students are able to choose from 11 different career pathways. Through academic lessons and hands-on instruction, students gain specific job skills and career/technical training in a particular field.
The main object in view is to train young men and women to useful trades and occupations, so that they can earn their own livelihood.” – Milton Hershey
Milton Hershey School’s award-winning Career and Technical Education program prepares students to graduate both college and career ready by combining tailor-made instruction and hands-on learning with the ability to gain industry-recognized certifications and real-life experience through internships and co-op experiences.
The program is part of the school’s whole child approach to education that helps students overcome obstacles that stem from poverty. Career and technical education can break down barriers by empowering students to discover their unique talents and passions at a young age and giving them the tools to pursue their interests. Students gain skills and knowledge that put them ahead of their peers when entering the workforce or continuing their studies at a postsecondary institution.
Early Exposure to Narrowing Career Interests
Students are introduced to the CTE program’s 11 career pathways as early as elementary school. Each year, fourth graders attend a CTE Fair on campus where they learn about each career pathway and participate in interactive, hands-on activities. Eighth-graders become more knowledgeable about the career pathways through guest speakers and job shadowing.
When students enter high school, they explore all 11 pathways before narrowing their areas of interest and ultimately selecting one to study for the remainder of their high school career. Each student completes a four-credit CTE requirement prior to graduation.
What career paths are available?
In fourth grade, MHS students begin exploring 11 career pathways, and in ninth grade, they narrow their areas of interest to four. At the end of their ninth grade year, students select a pathway to devote their attention for the remainder of high school.
They can choose from the following concentrations:
- Agriculture & Natural Resources
- Automotive Technology
- Business/Financial Management & Accounting
- Computer Science & Innovation
- Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management Services
- Electronic Media & Journalism
- Engineering & Design
- Graphic Communication Technologies
- Health Science
- Law, Public Safety & Security
The CTE experience at MHS features state-of-the-art facilities that simulate real work environments, instructors who are experts in their respective fields, and specialized classes that reflect the needs of local and nationwide employers. In fact, local businesspeople and experts serve on the advisory committees of each career pathway to ensure the school’s curriculum, certifications, and workplace experiences meet high standards and are relevant to the workplace now and in the future.
MHS also offers nine college classes taught by college professors on campus through its CTE program. The initiative gives students the ability to earn college credits while still in high school and assess whether college is the right path for them.
To build upon the technical skills students gain in CTE classrooms, MHS has developed strong partnerships with the local business community to offer students meaningful internship and co-op experiences that match their chosen career path.
Students are able to work in authentic work environments and learn directly from professionals. It’s a constructive way for students to discover the various aspects of a particular career or industry they like or don’t like while introducing them to employability skills, such as time management, planning and organization, and communication that are transferable to their future careers.
At Milton Hershey School, the success of our alumni is immeasurable. After developing a technical skillset through the school’s Career and Technical Education program, many alumni are able to confidently pursue careers and achieve success in a wide range of industries.
Beginning in ninth grade, students are encouraged to participate in industry-recognized certification exams. With the support of CTE teachers, students rigorously prepare for exams, and many CTE pathways offer multiple certification opportunities.
In the classes of 2012 to 2018, 100 percent of graduating seniors earned at least one industry-recognized certification in his or her area of study. In the last five-plus years, the number of certifications has nearly tripled for MHS students.
Do you have specialized teachers in the program?
We have our students learn from the best instructors who are experts in their respective field and national and state educational organizations are taking notice:
- 2018, 2016, and 2015 Pennsylvania ProStart Culinary Invitational winners.
- In 2018, Nicholas Isenburg, MHS Agriculture and Natural Resources instructor, attended the professional development institute at the University of Arizona to teach the Introduction to Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) course. During the CASE Institute, Isenberg spent 65 hours working through nearly every lesson in the curriculum and learning how to deliver lessons in an inquiry-based way with a focus on student-directed learning.
- In 2017, the Law, Public Safety and Security career pathway was awarded the national Excellence in Action Award from Advance CTE, an organization that advocates for high-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the nation.
- Dr. Jaunine Fouché, MHS STEAM and Agricultural & Environmental Education Director, was one of the recipients of the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
- The Hershey Honors Authentic Business Management Program, a collaboration between MHS and The Hershey Company, won the 2013 Outstanding Business/Education Partnership Award presented by the Pennsylvania Association for Career and Technical Education.
- The Graphic Communication Technologies program earned the 2013 Frederick D. Kagy Education Award of Excellence, presented by the Printing Industries of America. This was the first time a Pennsylvania school won the award.
- The Hershey Honors Authentic Business Management Program also was awarded top honors for Workplace Innovation in 2012 by PR News.
- Law, Public Safety, & Security teacher Dave Curry was named 2013 Residential Educator of the Year by the Coalition for Residential Education (CORE).
Leading the Way
Our CTE instructors adapt curriculum and experiential learning opportunities in response to workforce trends and innovation to position students for success and increase their long-term career and earnings potential. Their commitment and proficiency is what makes the school a national career and technical education leader—one that is blazing a trail for others.
In April 2016, MHS hosted the conference, Taking It to the Next Level, to further the national dialogue about Career and Technical Education by bringing together experts, policymakers, and scholars from across the country. We continue to lead the CTE conversation and facilitate information sharing among schools nationwide by hosting Twitter chats that increase collaboration among CTE and industry thought leaders.
In 2018, MHS received approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to implement the first state-registered pre-apprenticeship–giving students the ability to work in their desired work industry before graduation. Two 2018 MHS graduates were the first to take advantage of the opportunity with culinary arts pre-apprenticeships with Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. The school is working to develop pre-apprenticeships for each of the other career pathways.