Inaugural CTE Summit Highlights the Importance of Career Education

Thursday February 1, 2024

Decorated in beautiful floral arrangements made by students enrolled in Independence High School’s Floral Design CTE Pathway, more than 200 educators gathered inside the Bakersfield Marriott today to attend the inaugural CTE Summit hosted by KCSOS’s College and Careers Program and Central Valley Mother Lode Regional Consortium. 

The conference, strategically planned for the first day of National CTE Month, united K-16 educators in an exchange of ideas, strategies, and success stories. The one-day summit focused on a variety of CTE topics including curriculum development, the key components of a CTE program, work-based learning, instructional strategies, best practices, assessment methods and more.

Independence High School’s Floral Design CTE Pathway made all of the flower arrangements for the event.

The summit kicked off with keynote speaker Rachael Mann, who explored the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on career pathways, education, and work efficiencies. Then attendees were encouraged to attend various breakout sessions such as “Supporting Students in their CTE Journey,” “Leveraging Programs to Build Robust CTE and Early College Opportunities,” and “Apprenticeship: Building a Skilled Workforce through Work-Based Learning,” to name a few.

Keynote speaker, Rachael Mann, speaks about technology, AI, CTE, STEM, and careers.

According to Carrie Bloxom, KCSOS K-12 Pathway Specialist, the conference was a way to share resources and highlight the work CTE teachers do to advance career education.

“We never want CTE teachers to feel like they’re working on an island,” said Bloxom. “By providing this opportunity for educators to network and find ways to further develop their programs in ways that translate to future employment, we are setting everyone up for success.”

During the lunch hour, attendees were treated to a special student panel. Angelica Aldana, a former CTE Agriculture Pathway student, moderated a group discussion between four current CTE K-16 students in various pathways such as Vet Tech, Fire Technology, Digital Marketing and Media Design, and Industrial Automation.

One of the panelists, Abigail Vasquez, is a senior at Frontier High School who decided to enroll in Kern High School District’s ROC/CTEC Digital Marketing pathway. Utilizing the skills she’s learned in this pathway, Vasquez is excited to begin her college journey at Bakersfield College while also continuing her internship with North of the River Recreation and Park District.

Student panelists from left to right: Anthony Gonzalez, Bakersfield College; Ernesto Quintero, Bakersfield College; Moderator, Angelica Aldana; Abigail Vasquez, Frontier High School; Haylie Bloxom, Liberty High School.

“I decided on this pathway because it was the most broad and beneficial choice for me,” said Vasquez. “It’s taught me how to conduct myself professionally and get a better understanding of how the business world works. I take my career a lot more seriously because I know it’s real. It’s never been about ‘what I will do in my future career,’  but instead, ‘here’s the information, now you can go out there and do it.’”

KCSOS’s College and Careers Program and Central Mother Lode hope to continue hosting this conference to boost Kern County’s CTE opportunities further. 

For parents and students who want to get started on making a plan for their future, KCSOS’s College and Careers Program encourages people to visit the ihaveaplankern.org website, which features free resources that include student career surveys, tools to find what career pathways are offered at a student’s high school, and a growing library of videos that highlight these CTE offerings and are available 24/7 for parents, students, and counselors. 

By Jennifer Bryan

By Jennifer Bryan

Jennifer Bryan joined Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2021 as a Communications Specialist. As a creative and motivated marketing communications specialist, she has a special knack for storytelling and content creation. Born and raised in Kern County, Jennifer has worked in major industries within the region such as agriculture and oil and gas before she made the transition to education.