Students Drive Career and Technical Education Expansion

CTEC Interior Perspective including EsportsWhen the Career and Technical Education Center opened in 2008, it welcomed 1,134 students to its hallways in the first year. At the time, there was a student-run bank, unused classrooms and quieter hallways.

From its inception, the CTEC has been dedicated to helping students explore future career paths through authentic, real-world learning experiences that allow students to determine whether a specific career field is the right fit before pursuing it after high school.

“So much has changed since Dr. Wes Cunningham and I opened the doors that first year,” said CTE Center Principal Dianna Manuel. “This year, we have more than 5,000 students walking our hallways engaging in classes and programs that didn’t exist 15 years ago, including esports and foreign service and diplomacy.”

Later this year, construction will begin at 9889 Wade Boulevard at the CTEC in an expansion and renovation that will allow more than 7,500 students to take classes at the campus starting in the fall of 2024. Take a virtual tour of the future campus.

CTEC Interior Upstairs Commons“This expansion will allow FISD to continue to offer a wealth of future-ready learning opportunities as the community continues to grow and student interests evolve,” Manuel said.

A working design was presented by architects with Huckabee at January’s regular School Board meeting. The renovation, funded through the District’s 2018 bond program, will include converting some current spaces into classrooms and repurposing existing classrooms. 

Two new wings, including a one-story expansion on the south end of the current building, and two-story expansion on the east end, will provide new spaces for existing and expanded programming. In all, the campus will have 30 new classrooms and seven multi-purpose spaces to accommodate active, hands-on learning and future instructional practices.

CTEC Exterior Perspective Close-inThe program pathway expansions and subsequent CTEC expansion is rooted in conversations with students, staff and the industry community. Annual student course selections, as well as surveys of middle and high school students, provided valuable feedback in planning the expansion and will inspire future course offerings. 

The District also works closely with industry and postsecondary partners such as Collin College and the University of North Texas to align CTE offerings. 

In recent years, FISD has introduced new courses in cybersecurity, video game programming and esports as student interest in computer science and other STEM fields continues to grow. Soon, the District will also offer advanced esports and artificial intelligence classes. Demand for courses in health science has also continued to outpace program capacity. The expansion of the CTE Center will provide new dedicated spaces for these courses and several others.

“The campus was always meant to evolve with the needs and dreams of students,” said Cunningham, now Chief Academic Officer for FISD. “It is the home of future teachers, doctors, welders, horticulturalists, lawyers, engineers, cybersecurity specialists and so much more, and it will continue to evolve as students do. 

“We are excited to serve even more students and provide more ways for them to become future ready.”

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