Peoria Unified School District’s Career and Technical Education

The Peoria Unified School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) center assists students with planning for post-high school.

What to do after high school?

The Peoria Unified School District helped students with that big question at a Career and College event Oct. 19. The Career and Technical Education (CTE) center at Centennial High School hosted the event, now in its ninth year. It was created by Dr. Patti Beltram, the CTE director. Students in grades six and up were able to start exploring their futures.

 “Students were able to talk to current students to find out what is like, talk with colleges, universities, trade and technical schools,” Beltram said. 

Employers provided mock interviews, she said and discussed internships as well as entry-level positions.

Nine years ago, the event was held at Arizona State University West.  

“The students and parents were like, ‘Oh my gosh I can’t believe all of this is available but I don’t know what it looks like,’” Beltram said. “That is the reason why we moved it to Peoria high school in the third year because we wanted the students to not just have an open house but to have a hands-on experience.”

As part of that, the students were able to use virtual wells, create a toolbox, do cybersecurity or decorate cupcakes. 

The event is designed for students to develop their goals and help map their way through high school and college. Beltram said nearly 95% of the 2019 graduates took one CTE course before they graduated and 85% of the graduates took two or more. 

One student earned four mastery subject area graduation endorsements. Areas include engineering, automotive and agriculture. 

For a graduation endorsement, students must take sequential courses and maintain a 3.0-grade point average, then pass a technical assessment or industry credential.

This is Beltram’s 15th year with the Peoria district and is her 10th year as the CTE director. Before being the director, she was a CTE instructional specialist where she would train teachers. 

 “I am so excited because you get to find out what you like and what you don’t like in school, you get to save time and money for your parents,” Beltram said. “I have to say it is so exciting, it is the very few positions within the district that I get to see positive stuff about students every single day.”

The program has already begun planning a meeting for next year’s College and Career Day. 

 “I think it is important to know our students graduate high school, not just with a high school diploma, but they can graduate with an industry credential,” Beltram said. 

“They can graduate with college credits towards an associate or a bachelor’s degree. We are finding 85% of our graduates are graduating from our district and continuing post-secondary or related employment to what they took in high school.”