Bernadette Russoniello


By Bernadette Russoniello

Career and Technical Education, known as CTE, is education’s best-kept secret.

CTE programs across the state and country focus on preparing students with a combination of academic knowledge, technical skills and work-based learning that prepares students for the next step in their career and education plan. CTE focuses on “soft skills” that industry and employers require and find lacking in many high school and college graduates.

All CTE programs must be primarily work-based; these requirements make the courses highly interactive and engaging for students while providing authentic experiences for school, community and industry-involved learning. Additionally, all CTE programs must lead to industry-recognized certifications or an industry-identified skill set to give students a boost in applying for and landing jobs.

Statistically, CTE produces results. Graduation rates for CTE concentrators (students who complete a two-year program) exceed 98 percent compared to 68 percent for all Arizona students. There’s also an alarming trend of disconnected youth – young adults with no career or educational goals – accounting for nearly 11 percent of adults ages 18-24. CTE programs help connect with these students before they leave public education without a plan.

Maricopa High School offers students a variety of Career and Technical Education options. Many courses are state and national award-winning programs, modeling innovative strategies and learning experiences for students. Programs offered at MHS include Air Force ROTC, automotive technologies, computer repair and networking, culinary arts, digital photography, graphic design, marketing, sports medicine and technical theatre.

Additionally, MHS students have access to additional CTE programs through Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology. CAVIT courses provide certifications and dual enrollment credits from CAC. These opportunities include cosmetology, dental assisting, fire science, law enforcement, massage therapy, medical assisting, nurse assisting and veterinary assisting.

At MHS, students who complete at least two years of Air Force JROTC enlist at higher rank in the U.S. armed forces. Automotive students earn student ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certifications. Computer repair and networking students complete the CISCO Academy and A+ Certification. Culinary Art students become ServSafe food managers in addition to recipients of the standard Food Handler card. Graphic Design students work to become Adobe-certified associates. Marketing students utilize Google Ad Words and Google Analytics certification in addition to regular work hours and sales experience through their student-based enterprise. Sports Medicine students certify in CPR and First Aid as well as Emergency Medical Responder.

Maricopa High School CTE programs seek the participation and involvement of local business and industry to advise program focus. If you have questions about the programs or would like to offer your expertise and guidance on program advisory boards, please reach out.

Bernadette Russoniello is the Career and College coordinator at Maricopa High School. She can be reached at

This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.


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