Cutter Morning Star School District expands career courses

Cutter Morning Star School Superintendent Nancy Anderson talks about the district's growth in its career and technical education program earlier this week in her office. - Photo by Brandon Smith of The Sentinel-Record

HOT SPRINGS -- With the growing importance being placed on career and technical education in today's public schools, educators are offering more programs in that area than ever.

Nancy Anderson, superintendent of the Cutter Morning Star School District, said when she first came to the district in 2012, it only offered one career and technical education program -- family and consumer sciences. Now the district offers five programs.

"That is huge; we've gone from one to five in the last 10 years, so that is quite a big growth and it offers our students a lot of opportunity," she said. "These opportunities allow us to train students to go right into the workforce a lot of times."

Along with family and consumer sciences, students may now choose to study pre-education, graphic design, advertising, health services, human services, tourism and many other areas. Anderson, noting the advantages of tailoring such programs to a school's region, said hospitality and tourism has become a key program.

"We selected tourism, obviously, because of where we are. The human and social services, and nutritional science, those CTE programs ... to me, those are some that everybody should take. That's about how you take care of yourself and your family and just everyday skills. But when we looked into what else we would want our kids to have the opportunity to explore, that was, of course, tourism," she said.

A favorite program of the students is graphic design. Using computers to manipulate pictures and objects for building posters and brochures, she noted, creates a lot of project opportunities. The students also collaborate with the school's EAST lab on larger projects. The district teams up with National Park College for many of the career and technical education programs.

"We were very fortunate with all of these, but advertising and graphic design was phased out at National Park and so it was no longer offered there," she said. "We were very blessed that we actually hired the instructor from National Park and she came over and she does art for us but she also does Graphic Design 1 and 2 here on our campus.

"National Park was really good to share some of their equipment with us and then, of course, we were able to get some grant money to fund all of the nice equipment for her to produce all these great products in that particular class."

While many schools have an annual "Spring Signing Day," Cutter Morning Star includes local business and industry in the event.