As a part of Innovative School Models and National Career and Technical Education (CTE) month, the department is highlighting the advances that Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) have made in utilizing innovative postsecondary strategies and CTE skills to improve student outcomes and preparation for the workforce across Tennessee.
“Through our innovative postsecondary work, Tennessee is aligning educator and community support with student leadership to provide opportunities for students to access the workforce earlier in their middle and high school journeys,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Our state is committed to ensuring all students are prepared for postsecondary success, regardless of the pathway they choose.”
This month, the department is celebrating Innovative School Models and National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month to highlight how Tennessee is reimagining the classroom for middle and high school students, while also amplifying the role CTE has in preparing students for postsecondary success.
Career and Technical Student Organizations
CTSOs recognize and promote the concept of well-rounded students as being essential for all students to assume successful roles in society and in the labor market. Additionally, CTSOs help improve the quality of classroom instruction and CTE programs, develop student leadership, enhance citizenship responsibilities, and serve students of special populations.
Each CTSO must support one of Tennessee’s 16 nationally recognized career clusters and align directly with CTE course standards. Currently, the department recognizes the following seven CTSOs that support CTE programs in Tennessee:
- Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
- The National FFA Organization (FFA)
- Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)
- Future Health Professionals (HOSA)
- Technology Student Association (TSA)
Further, CTSOs provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate what they have learned in the classroom in competitive and networking environments. Students who participate in competitions and serve on executive boards meet industry professionals and develop relationships that can lead to internships, sponsorships, scholarships, and workforce opportunities. CTSOs further advance student outcomes by developing employability and citizenship skills, such as leadership, responsibility, independence, confidence and networking skills.
The backbone of Tennessee’s CTSOs is CTE educators and CTSO advisors, who promote CTE knowledge and skills integration within CTSOs. CTE teachers are uniquely positioned to promote connections between their content, labor market needs, and their students’ postsecondary goals, reporting strong alignment with career exploration and knowledge demonstration opportunities. Moreover, when advisors affiliate with CTSOs, they gain access to classroom resources, lesson plans, and professional development events, making the connections between CTSOs and CTE more seamless.
CTSO’s Impacts in Tennessee on the High School Level
“CTE courses provide students with hands-on activities, real-world practices, and networking opportunities while supplementing these experiences through CTSO participation,” said Michelle Henley, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Advisor/Business Teacher, Coffee County High School. “Students apply the knowledge and skills gained through these courses and organizations in their future personal, academic, and professional lives. Past FBLA members often send me messages about how their participation in the club has influenced them and continues to impact their lives on a daily basis.”
“Upon accepting the position of Health Science Instructor, came the responsibility of starting a Future Health Professionals (HOSA) chapter, and I quickly fell in love,” said Kaycee Martin. Kaycee is a HOSA Advisor/Health Instructor at Bedford Community High School.
“Being a part of a student-led organization that promotes leadership and professionalism is essential to growing future leaders. Through these CTSOs, specifically HOSA, I have witnessed students who were timid, reserved, and afraid to step out, become thriving, encouraging, motivating leaders. What I thought would be an interesting career change has turned into what I hope is a lifelong passion for creating learning environments for students and other educators to not just survive but thrive!”
“Participating in a CTSO is one of the most impactful decisions a student can make,” said Daphne Douglas. Douglas is a Technology Student Association (TSA) Chapter Advisor at Powell High School.
“TSA has sparked a passion in my students. It has led to students stepping up as leaders, to constructing their own learning on topics outside of the classroom to be better prepared for competition and to developing soft skills. Like time management and communication skills. Being a TSA advisor has been one of my very favorite parts of teaching.”
“Being a state officer has given me multiple opportunities to learn and grow. said Aryanna Nelson, SkillsUSA Tennessee State Treasurer, Sophomore, Coffee County High School. “The most important thing to me…is the importance and impact of Career and Technical Student Organizations and CTE,”
“My life, and millions of others, have been permanently changed and improved from CTE and CTSOs. The amazing work they do empowers students like me every day.”