ACTE Techniques April 2012 : Page 10

L EADERSHIP M Att ERS Elements of a Successful School Tour Visit PHOTO COURTESY OF ASHLEY PARkER The media attend a school visit at Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City, South Dakota. School tours are an excellent way to showcase career and technical education programs to media and elected officials. make Chantilly Academy an exceptional school. The tour concluded with a panel of students and instructors from pro-grams the groups had visited, answering questions about the school, programs and the impact of CTE in the lives of the students at Chantilly Academy. The visit was highly informative and inspiring for ACTE staff. A school visit is an excellent oppor-tunity to showcase your programs and students to the media, policymakers and the business community. Many schools, like Chantilly Academy, hosted school tours during CTE Month, but a school visit is a vital tool in your advocacy tool-box year-round. So what makes a terrific school tour? plan Ahead By Ashley Parker IN CELEBRAtION OF CAREER AND tECHNICAL EDUCAtION Seeing programs First-hand Chantilly Academy is one of six “acad-emies,” or CTE magnet schools, that FCPS students can apply to for course offerings in the 16 career clusters. The academy serves approximately 1,300 students; it offers more than 20 different CTE programs in high-demand areas such as engineering, information technol-ogy and health sciences. Following open-ing remarks from school officials, ACTE staff split into small groups and were led through the school’s programs by Chan-tilly Academy teachers, counselors and career specialists. During the tour, students and teachers highlighted the community partnerships, mentorship and the ties to local indus-try as some of the characteristics that (CTE) Month, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) staff visits a CTE program in the D.C. Metro region each year, inviting media and policymakers to join us. School visits, or site visits, allow participants a first-hand look at what CTE is and how it affects students, schools and communities. In February, ACTE visited Chantilly Academy in Chantilly, Virginia, to tour the programs and observe the impact CTE is making in the Washington, D.C., region. The tour began in the morning with a brief introduction from Chantilly Academy administration, Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) CTE coordinator and executive staff. Typically, planning for a school tour begins when one is requested or the school intends to hold one for an event or specific group. The first step is establishing what approval needs to be obtained to allow visitors on the premises and, if media is involved, to photograph, film or speak with school employees and/ or students. Contact your district media specialist or the media relations contact at your school to get an outline of the process. Once you have approval for a tour, determine what your goals are. For ex-ample, if a Member of Congress and his or her staff are touring your school, your goal may be to ensure that they under-stand the importance of Perkins funding in your local program. The goals should determine how the tour is structured, and each tour will be slightly different de-pending on the audience and goals. Also, 10 Techniques April 2012

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