CTE Academy prepares students for success

A conversation with Principal Josh Hall


Currently principal of the Career and Technical Education Academy, Josh Hall has also served the Sioux Falls School District as an assistant superintendent, middle school principal and as a career and technical education teacher in Rapid City, Brandon Valley and Sioux Falls. In addition to his commitment to the Sioux Falls schools, Hall serves the Sioux Falls community as an executive board member for HOSA, executive board member for Skills USA South Dakota, a member of the Sioux Falls Chamber’s Education & Workforce Committee, the Sioux Empire Home Builders Association Workforce Committee and as a member of the Downtown Chapter of Sioux Falls Rotary. We talked with Hall about CTE and how it fits into building the Sioux Falls area workforce.

WIN:  When was CTE Academy created and what is its mission?


Josh Hall:  The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Academy is in its eighth year of serving students in the Sioux Falls area. Our mission is to educate and prepare students for future success through specialized, relevant, career-oriented learning. We do that through a variety of courses relating to career and technical education. Examples of our areas of study include culinary arts, media arts, bio-medical sciences, engineering, financial services, welding, construction, human services, auto body repair, aviation, health careers and automotive technology.


WIN:  What does CTE do for students who attend the academy?


JH:  Career and technical education allows students to explore career fields and other interests they have. We help students prepare for whatever is beyond high school. That could mean heading directly to the workforce, attending a two-year program, attending a four-year program or pursuing specialized certification as they work in a field of interest. Ultimately, a student’s experience at the CTE Academy puts them in a position to make more informed decisions about their plans after high school graduation.


WIN:  What is the student response to CTE?


JH:  Students really enjoy taking classes at the CTE Academy. Our method of instruction is primarily hands-on learning. We like to call it “learning by doing.” Students immediately see the real-world relevance in their learning. As the principal of the CTE Academy, I get to see kids having fun while learning every day. The students are eager to tell me about their experience here and parents are quick to point out how they “wish they had these opportunities when they were in high school” and I agree!


WIN:  What is the CTE connection with the hiring side of the Sioux Falls workforce equation?


JH:  Our staff works very closely with industry representatives to discuss workforce needs, current trends in industry, and how to best prepare our students to enter the Sioux Falls workforce. One of the programs we are focused on growing is our internship program. Through support from the Forward Sioux Falls, a CITI Foundation grant, and various donations from local business partners, we have brought on an internship coordinator and career coach. We have about 200 students who will take part in internships this school year and we hope to increase that number in future years. Many of these students have already been offered jobs from the businesses they have interned with. The purpose of the program is to help address the local workforce needs while helping our talented students discover career opportunities in fields that interest them.


WIN:  How has the Sioux Falls business community responded to CTE?


JH:  We are very fortunate to have a community, school board and superintendent who fully support career and technical education. The high school students in the Sioux Falls area have incredible opportunities because of that support. It started about 10 years ago when our school board committed a large sum of money to building a state of the art facility to serve students through career and technical education. That first year of student attendance eight years ago started with about 500 students. Today we serve almost 900 students daily, including 150 students from surrounding school districts. The Sioux Falls business community provides financial support, equipment donations and, most importantly, their time and expertise. It truly takes a team effort to create this learning opportunity for our students. Our business community has always been there to support us when we need them.


WIN:  Why is CTE an important element in developing a trained workforce for the Sioux Falls area?


JH:  We are a direct line to local workforce needs. Through our advisory groups and constant communication with industry leaders, we can provide our students with the insight and skills necessary to either pursue additional training/education in a field of local need or become employed in the Sioux Falls area immediately. We have an extremely talented group of students in the Sioux Falls area, and our goal is to present opportunities for those students to use their talents in the Sioux Falls community while addressing the local work force needs.


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