Who would have ever believed that two rivals like Hayden and Ray would ever come together in a partnership?
Thanks to the members of the Ray School District and voters in the Ray Unified School District a partnership has emerged and it’s the kids at Ray High School and Hayden High School who are going to benefit most.
In November, voters were asked if the Ray district should join the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology JTED (Joint Technology Education District). Ray’s voters overwhelmingly said, “Yes, please!” (The final tally was 914 yes and 360 no votes.)
Hayden has been a member since its inception nearly 20 years ago.
JTEDs were created in Arizona in 1990. There are currently 14 districts in Arizona. According to Mike O’Neil, the new CVIT director, there are only four high schools in Arizona NOT participating in a JTED. CVIT was formed in 2000 and with Ray High School has six members schools: Superior, Globe, Miami, San Carlos, Hayden and Ray. JTEDs provide high school students with career and technical education so that they can enter the workforce as soon as they graduate from high school.
Over the past years, Hayden High School students have been transported to Globe-Miami to take part in classes offered by the JTED: fire science, cosmetology, certified nursing assistant (CNA) training and a number of computer technology programs. But this year, students won’t have to go far at all for training.
CVIT Superintendent Pete Guzman, Director O’Neil and the two superintendents of Ray and Hayden, Curt Cook and Jeff Gregorich, have enlisted the help of Maria Munoz, Director of Student Affairs at Central Arizona College to host a CNA class at the Aravaipa campus.
Students are loving that idea.
The first ever CVIT/Central CNA class has 19 Ray High School students and 5 Hayden High School students registered. Students in the two-year program will earn dual credit for high school and college. When complete, students will be ready to test for their state board exam to become fully certified.
The program works.
Just the past May, 13 students graduated from the CVIT CNA program taught at the Gila Community College.
“All (of them) passed their state board,” O’Neil said. “Eleven of 13 are working or are continuing their education.”
The education is “industry recognized,” O’Neil added.
This partnership includes another certification program for students. Ray High School will host a CVIT/CAC dual credit class in Welding. Students completing the two-year program will leave with an AWS certificate from Central Arizona College. Hayden students will be bused to Ray High School to attend welding class.
Ray School District has hired a teacher especially for the class, Sam Colton, who comes to the district from Arizona Western College in Yuma and who is, according to Cook, “one of the best welding instructors in the state.” Colton was looking to relocate to a more rural area and “fell into my lap,” Cook said. “He has a great vision for the program.”
Gregorich, Cook and Guzman have been working hard over the summer to get the two classes ready for the school year. Ray and Hayden School Districts plan to “share resources,” Gregorich said, both always cognizant of “taxpayers’ money.” The superintendents need to finalize details on how busing from Ray and Hayden to the Aravaipa campus will occur, but will probably involve trading days.
What do these classes mean to students? They are the ones who will ultimately have to decide how much time and effort they put into the venture. The CNA classes are held five days a week, Mondays through Thursdays from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and Fridays beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending only when required classroom time is met (the schedule for the welding class has yet to be determined). These 16, 17 and 18 year olds will have to step up and act like college students, held to the CAC standard code of conduct.
When Guzman was first exploring the idea of a JTED, back when he was an administrator at Hayden Schools, he said many people told him that high school students wouldn’t make the sacrifices necessary for the training. They wouldn’t commit to extra hours of schooling outside of their regular education.
Those critics were wrong, Guzman said. “Kids can do it,” he explained. They can make that sacrifice.
Lauren Carnes, a recent graduate of Pima County JTED, addressed new CVIT students and parents at the orientation meeting hosted at Ray High School last week.
“The training is stressful,” Carnes said, “but it is so rewarding.”
Carnes told those present at the orientation that she recently graduated with her high school diploma and her national and state certification as an EMT. She said that she’s not yet employed, but that is only because she’s “not strong enough to lift a gurney.” She is, however, working on it.
Guzman asked the 18-year-old to speak to the students as a “success story” for JTEDs. Carnes attended classes at Pima County JTED as a junior in the law enforcement program and as a senior in the EMT program. Her classroom time between the two programs was more than 900 hours, a huge commitment that included two evening classes a week and two eight-hour Saturday classes a month. (While CVIT doesn’t offer an EMT program, the district is looking into the possibility of offering a program in law enforcement.)
Guzman concluded the orientation by thanking the Ray School Board Members and the voters who made the ultimate decision to join the district, calling them “true leaders.” He also commended the students who had the “courage” to take this step into their own futures. “You are next,” he said. “Good luck.”
There is still time for students to participate in CVIT classes. Contact your school counselor for more information.