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South’s CTE Business Pathway Preparing Colts for Life Itself

To be successful in the modern-day world, a certain amount of business acumen, and knowledge of technology, is essential, no matter what career path a young person chooses.

And for those planning to pursue a post-secondary degree in a business-related field, a sturdy foundation is essential. Business Teacher Ms. Cesario talks with D60 about the classes she teaches at South

At South High School, Colts have the best of both worlds through the Career and Technical Education pathway overseen by Rachel Cesario.

In the business and marketing courses instructed by Ms. Cesario, students are exposed to personal finance, Microsoft and computer applications, and the basics of business: all of which are vital to properly navigate the commerce-driven world we live in. 

“Career and Technical Education is preparing kids for the future,” she explained. “As a CTE instructor, my objective is to get them ready for a career or college: and some of the things we offer will do that, no matter what they decide to do in the future.

“Business is a foundation, no matter what they go into. The skills kids learn are applicable to any career field, as well as their personal life.”

The personal finance aspect of the program has particularly made a strong impression on Colts, with graduates informing Ms. Cesario of its notable impact.

“I’ve heard from a lot of kids that it’s the most important class they’ve taken, because it applies to them,” she said. “Kids not only enjoy it, they need it: so that they don’t wake up at 30 and have made all those mistakes, because they know how to budget, save and invest.”

A number of Colts who participated in FBLA – which helps prepare students for careers in business through academic competitions, leadership development, and educational programs – went on to study at the college level.

“We have an active FBLA here at South,” Ms. Cesario said. “We’ve had state champions, including a 2019 cybersecurity state champion who is in college at Boulder now. So I’ve had a lot of success in taking kids to state and nationals, across the country.”

For students planning to pursue a post-secondary credential, the fact that up to 12 concurrent enrollment credits are available is a welcome convenience.

“So not only are they getting laude points for these classes, they are getting concurrent enrollment credit, on top of the industry certification,” Ms. Cesario said. “And for those students planning to pursue a four-year degree, this program can be very valuable in terms of the concurrent enrollment credits, which are transferrable at any college in Colorado.”

To allow Colts the opportunity to apply classroom instruction to the real world, “workplace learning” is part of the CTE pathway.

“Students are placed in industries around the city,” Ms. Cesario said. “At present, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office hires our students, for one or two years, for business tasks like filing and answering phones. Not only are they paid, but the experience also looks very good on a resume. 

“They also have the opportunity to work in a school-based enterprise: a snack bar that we plan to expand once we are able.”

For Ms. Cesario, the most rewarding aspect of CTE instruction is “seeing kids have their minds opened and discovering things they maybe wouldn’t have in their regular classes. I was a CTE kid, as were both of my children. So I see the value in it. 

“And one of the main things that sets our program apart is that we have a variety of classes, including entrepreneurship and Microsoft applications, through which kids can get actual industry certification.

“And we are one of only three testing centers for that in Southern Colorado.”