Futures in Focus: Yuba College Partnership Brings CTE to Wheatland Union High School

Wheatland High School K-12 CTE Pathways

Wheatland Union High School students are doing more than just thinking ahead… they’re seeing the future

A unique partnership between Wheatland Union High School and Yuba College is setting students up for CTE success. Thanks to articulated courses offered through its neighbor up the 65, Wheatland students are building career foundations in in-demand industries – from agriculture to business, education, healthcare and more – before they even graduate high school. 

The Get Focused, Stay Focused curriculum implemented at WUHS allows students to take a foundational course as freshman to map out a 10-year career plan. It’s a novel approach that compels participants to engage their futures faster, according to Carol Keiser, Director of CTE & College Readiness and Business Teacher in the Wheatland Union High School District.

“Every freshman goes through this class where they’re essentially creating a 10-year plan for success,” Keiser explains. “They’re not just working on a four-year traditional education plan, but they’re really planning out their lives 10 years beyond high school, and then back planning from there.

“They can use that time purposefully to gain the skills that they need to start moving into careers that pay higher than minimum wage right out of high school.” 

The Strong Workforce-funded CTE pathways are continuously developing as industry needs surge. Popular pathways amongst WUHS students include Animal Science, Agriculture, Patient Care, Game Design and Integration, Video Production, Education, and Public Safety. Many of the CTE pathways for WUHS hold dual enrollment opportunities at Yuba College to ensure a smooth transition for students after graduating high school.

Among the highest-attended CTE pathways for Wheatland students is Education, which not only provides comprehensive classroom instruction, but facilitates hands-on learning opportunities at local elementary and middle schools. Students in this pathway go out multiple times each semester to observe teachers in the field. By the time they reach their final course in the program, they are often participating in student teaching or even leading a lesson themselves.

Our CTE pathways also serve as a platform for exploration, enabling students to discover their interests and talents in a real-world setting,” says Nicole Newman, Superintendent for the Wheatland Union High School District. “[They] offer a supportive and engaging learning environment that nurtures our students’ passions and interests while equipping them with valuable skills for the future.” 

The proof is in the numbers: Since starting at Wheatland Union High School in 2019, the number of students involved in the CTE pathways has gained steady momentum. Keiser notes that d

uring her first year at WUHS, there were only about 20 or so students who completed a CTE pathway. This past year, she says, there were around 100.

“When I first came on, we had … seven pathways,” recalls Keiser. “And now, we are up to 14 full pathways and we’re getting ready to write a strong workforce hopefully for auto and looking at

 doing hybrid and electric vehicles.

“We had some work to do coming back from COVID for two years there, and right now, we’re on the pathway of having … probably a minimum of a dozen completers in every single pathway.”

Keiser’s team keeps its CTE curriculum crisp by connecting with the local community to identify workforce needs and valuable work opportunities for students. Wheatland CTE students can make these connections through biannual college and career fairs, where they learn about trade schools, colleges, internship and apprenticeship positions, military options, and more opportunities locally and regionally. These events take place on campus at the CTE/C Center, which offers resources, information, and staff year-round to support high school students as they explore their college and career goals.

“Creating those kinds of relationships … students are really starting to take more ownership of their high school education and use that time purposefully to gain the skills they need to start moving into careers that pay higher than minimum wage right out of high school,” says Keiser. 

“We also include certifications and workplace learning opportunities within our CTE pathways. The students are starting to see the value in that.”

This includes the Patient Care CTE pathway, which helps students earn valuable certifications in CPR, first aid, and AED training, as well as the Auto Vehicle Systems Diagnostics and Repair pathway — offering participants a smooth transition as they earn credit toward the first two classes for the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification program with Yuba College. Thanks 

to the Get Focused, Stay Focused curriculum, students can easily understand the courses and necessary steps they need to plan for their career and college all while in high school.

“[It] allows students to really own their high school education, because they ask themselves, ‘Well, what can I do in high school to start getting these industry skills that I need to get these jobs?’,” notes the Director. 

The adoption and success of the Get Focused, Stay Focused curriculum has been widespread. With the groundbreaking curriculum in motion in over 500 high schools and community colleges across the United States, students are taking the reins on their futures before they even have a high school diploma. 

The benefits don’t stop with the students. As Keiser notes, Wheatland High School has seen a decrease in absences and behavioral referrals since implementing the GFSF curriculum. Meanwhile, the school is seeing a boost in completion of college requirements amongst students, right alongside an average GPA increase. 

As Superintendent of Wheatland Union High School District, Newman couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. 

“Many of our students are drawn to these [CTE] programs because they see them as a direct path to fulfilling their career aspirations,” says the District head.  “Our CTE programs provide our students with a unique opportunity to acquire practical skills and hands-on training in specific industries or trades, making them well-prepared for immediate job opportunities after graduation.”

September 2023