The importance of Career and Technical Education programs has taken center stage in Michigan. It is a familiar place in Utica Community Schools, which has long put a priority on giving students a competitive advantage to pursue high paying careers in their future.
UCS is fortunate to be located in the heart of the automotive, defense and health care industries. Through these relationships and the innovation of our staff, we have pioneered CTE programs that are now becoming the standard in education.
Recently, a 2012 UCS graduate, Adam Drotar, spoke about how far ahead he was compared to his peers when he began Lawrence Technological University. Drotar noted that UCS prepared him in key ways – he knew how to work in a team, was comfortable in a hands-on environment, could work across disciplines and knew how to solve problems.
The State of Michigan has recently announced a “Marshall Plan for Talent” to ensure meeting the demands of a professional trades industry that is expected to add 15,000 new jobs annually through 2024.
As Michigan makes CTE its focus, UCS will continue to ensure our students are a step ahead of their competition when it comes to achieving their career and college goals.
CTE demands a certain type of facility that mirrors the equipment and environment our students will experience in their future careers. We are working with industry leaders to design classrooms that give our students the workspace and tools they will need to be successful.
We continually network with business, manufacturing and education leaders to remain in touch with future needed skill sets and career projections in these fields.
This year, Eisenhower High School piloted a “Gone Boarding” program that gave students design and building skills while producing surfboards, snowboards, stand-up paddleboards and skateboards – one of the nation’s fastest growing industries.
Next year, a new program called the Center for Manufacturing, Automation, Design and Engineering will begin at Stevenson High School. It will blend rigorous academic content with relevant, real world applications by making use of strong business relationships and post-secondary partners in the field of Advanced Manufacturing.
The Utica Center for Science and Industry opened in the fall of 2008, and continues to earn national recognition for its work to provide students with direct experience in mechatronics, multimedia and engineering technology.
Our focus remains on providing our students with the innovation, support, relationships and environment that keeps them on the front line of the best jobs for the future. We want to ensure our students remain – as Adam Drotar described it – “miles ahead of the competition.”
The 2018-2019 school year is now officially under way with a renewed sense of energy and commitment. Utica Community Schools remains a destination district focused on success, thanks to an involved community, dedicated staff and a commitment to making sure our students have a competitive advantage for college and career. We create that advantage through four key strategies: providing academic excellence, promoting student innovation, preparing positive digital citizens and ensuring accountability.
This year, two Career and Technical Education programs are being introduced that are a direct response to fields in demand by industry leaders. A new cybersecurity course for high school students will give students access to the careers and fields that will help drive this region’s economy.
In addition, we have worked closely with area business leaders to create the Stevenson Center for Manufacturing, Automation, Design and Engineering (MADE). This four-year program will give students rigorous academic content blended with practical experiences in fabrication, automation and design engineering. Specialized courses and advanced manufacturing principles will be integrated into all core academic courses of English, social studies, math and science.
At the junior high school level, a Computer Science Discoveries course is now offered at all seven schools to give students concentrated experiences in coding and programming. The course also promotes computer science as a medium for creativity, communication and problem solving.
For elementary students, a new mathematics series – Math Expressions – addresses the rigor of all Michigan Academic Standards and eight key mathematical practices, such as understanding the meaning of a problem and being persistent in solving it or how to use tools (computers, devices, paper and pencil, etc.) effectively. This new series blends the traditional instructional approach to mathematics instruction with newer, research-based best practices.
School safety and security remains a top priority for our entire community. This year we are continuing to partner with local law enforcement by providing all UCS sixth graders prevention programs that promote positive decision making. The Sterling Heights Police Department will introduce the SMART Moves program, which will serve as a complement to D.A.R.E. offered in Shelby Township, Utica and Macomb Township. These important programs give our students strategies to address critical issues such as bullying, digital citizenship and substance abuse. D.A.R.E. and SMART Moves also provide students the opportunity to have a positive interaction with local law enforcement officers.
These are among the many ways we work to ensure UCS remains an educational leader in our region, state and nation. We recognize the strong foundation of success that is a hallmark over many generations in UCS. We honor this legacy by ensuring a UCS diploma will always be a recognized symbol of high achievement that continues to open doors for our graduates.