“I wouldn’t wish any specific thing for any specific person — it’s none of my business. But the idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane. It’s insane.”
To lay the mental framework for this plan, Beaton believes teachers should focus on their “why” statement. When students question why they are learning material teachers should be equipped to put it into perspective, because if there isn’t a value attached to the insight, the student might, not continue processing.
At Henrico, CTE operates as a silo that brings together all of the pieces needed for success rather than segregating specific lessons. It offers a buildable foundation of learning. When students have a greater stake and interest in the lesson, the learning experience becomes personal. The skills applied are still the same, but the lessons have a more resounding impact.
This is the foundation of the CTE plan. It’s structured around the 21 core competencies, or the soft skills, that are required for workplace readiness. These are transferable skills that will benefit students on any career pathway they follow.
Beaton has had great success over his 33-year career at Henrico County Public Schools, where he has been head of CTE for 20 years.
He recounts stories of successful students who have gone on to have diverse specialties: becoming architects, engineers and legislators. He hopes to continue this offering and has even extended the program to the middle school students to impress upon them that there is no one right pathway to success.