TWIN FALLS – A high school vocational technical education program that got many teens to think hard about the numbers has won awards for its work in boosting participation, training and credit towards post-secondary degrees.
Lorraine Rapp and Lori Peterson accepted the Exemplary Program Award for the Applied Accounting Program at Twin Falls High School. The award was presented at the Connect Professional Development Summer Conference, hosted by the Career and Technical Education Division of the Idaho Department of Education.
Rapp, who taught at Twin Falls High School for 20 of his 30 years as an accounting teacher, said it was both the above-average achievements of students in the program, as well as the way the students took advantage of the opportunities. network in the business world, through organizations, corporate partnerships, job shadowing and relationship building.
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“Our mission in our program is to give them the confidence to pursue any field and basic professional skills,” Rapp said. “We always try to be innovative and keep up with new curricula, new technologies and incorporate them into our curriculum. It changes every year, and throughout the year.
Rapp teaches Accounting 1 and Accounting 2, which is a college-level dual-enrollment course and offers college credit toward an associate’s degree, which more and more Twin Falls students earn when they graduate. of high school.
Earning college credit has some appeal, as does the ability to earn nationally recognized certificates such as Microsoft Office Certificates, National Financial Literacy, and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. In the business world, these certificates can be expensive, but high school students can choose to take advantage of the State Department of Education’s offer to take charge.
One of the award criteria was how well students engaged with organizations outside of the classroom. More than just getting a grade or doing well on tests, students in CTE programs are able to connect with various organizations, such as Business Professionals of America, the National Leadership Council, as well as community organizations, to across the state, and even nationwide.
Students in the Applied Accounting program also partner with community organizations like the Optimists Club and Special Olympics. The class often makes field trips to bankruptcy court or open houses to meet with realtors and mortgage loan officers.
“We’re trying to bring the classroom into the business world, so to speak, and give them those opportunities.” Rapp said.
Lori Peterson, who teaches information systems in the applied accounting program, said the opportunities gave students the chance to explore how different business and industrial fields actually work. They give kids a taste of what awaits them after high school, she said.
“I would say the majority of our kids who go through the program don’t become accountants,” Peterson said. “But they come out of there with the leadership qualities and the confidence to achieve whatever they want to do.”
“I would say – just guess – a lot of them are entrepreneurs. They’re probably going on to graduate business, maybe graduate degrees, but I could foresee a lot of them going on to become employers,” Peterson said. “It’s multi-faceted.”
Despite all the innovation and change the program goes through every year — which is almost constant — being recognized for their efforts feels good, Rapp said.
“I think (Lori and I) are both very grateful for the recognition,” Rapp said. “We really have to congratulate our parents for encouraging their children to take our classes. We need to recognize our principals in our school, and obviously our school district.
The award was presented at the Connect Professional Development Summer Conference, hosted by the Career and Technical Education Division of the Idaho Department of Education. San Miguel said the conference is a place where programs can share what they’ve done to evolve and improve ways to give students more job training and job readiness by the time they graduate.
“We try to highlight the programs of the year that have been innovative or successful, and to be able to share that with others in the industry,” said Adrian San Miguel, Director of Programs at IDE ETC.
San Miguel said CTE has grown a lot in recent years, with the addition of funding from the Department of Education, Advanced Opportunities has added funding to allow students to take certifications before leaving high school.
“With the growth in Idaho, the number of employers that have moved in, and the need for these technical, skilled trades, I think companies are hungry to find students with some kind of transferable skill and get these certifications. of the industry,” San Miguel said.
In an effort to produce a world-class, job-ready workforce, vocational and technical training has flourished in Idaho in recent times. In the Twin Falls School District, 2,196 students — or 64 percent of high school students — have taken one of the district’s 120 CTE courses. This spring, 36 seniors received an associate’s degree with their high school diploma.