Excellence in Action Award Program Spotlight: Industry Experts in the Classroom Lead to Student Success

Getting qualified industry experts into the classroom has been a hot topic in the Career Technical Education (CTE) world lately. A pillar of high-quality CTE is having all CTE programs of study facilitated by knowledgeable experts. Those educators who have spent time in industry are able to bring not only the necessary academic knowledge, but also technical skills to their learners, helping keep curriculum up-to-date and providing meaningful experiences that students are sure to use in their careers.

In honor of these educator-professionals, we’d like to highlight our 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Arts, A/V Technology & Communications Career Cluster, the Passaic County Technical Institute’s School of Communication Arts Graphic Design Program located in Wayne, NJ. Serving 186 students in the 2015-16 school year, the program boasts 100% graduation rate with 91% of graduates earning an industry-recognized credential and 93% earning postsecondary credit while still in high school. With a student population that is 82% minority and 59% low-income, this program is giving some of the students who most need a leg up a significant boost.

Nearly 200 students are enrolled in this innovative program of study, that combines academic, and technical coursework, along with extensive real-world learning opportunities. Not only are students able to earn dual credit as well as industry certifications, they are also instructed by educators who are practicing professionals, active in the field and who have their fingers on the pulse of fast-moving industry changes.  These industry-expert teachers are not only experts in the classroom, but also able to share what they’re working on in the industry. Because they keep up to date with emerging trends in design and design technology, they are able to produce actual industry examples and structure assignments around career-relevant trends.  As they look to the future, instructors are excited to bring cutting edge technology to their students — 3D animation software, such as Maya and 3d Max as well as 3D printing, providing students with tangible portfolio items they can take with them to postsecondary and the workforce.

Program supervisor, Jerry Castaneda explains, “This field is changing every day — the technology, the way media and businesses are using graphics are evolving as well. With the guidance from our teachers, our alums are using cutting-edge software products to change the identity of corporate culture.”

The dedication from skilled educators has resulted in a program of study that demonstrates CTE can lead to incredible student successes.

Learn more about the Graphic Arts program at PCTI and our 2017 award winners.

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