Herkimer BOCES CTE programs prepare students for college, careers

Explore your opportunities at Herkimer BOCES Open House 6-8 p.m. March 14

Girl standing next to back to school bulletin board

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Child and Family Services student Shaylynn Smith, a senior of Central Valley, poses by the Child and Family Services classroom billboard on Feb. 27 at Herkimer BOCES.

 ‘You’re doing a job’

Herkimer BOCES Child and Family Services student Shaylynn Smith, a senior of Central Valley, has always been interested in working with children, and she plans to be a pediatrician or do other work with children in the medical field.

Smith decided to join the Child and Family Services class, which focuses on early childhood education, as a way to learn more about interacting with children.

“I feel like it helped me because children can’t really convey their needs and what they want to do as much as we can,” she said.

Through the class, she has learned to pick up on nonverbal cues from children, which will benefit her as a pediatrician, she said.

Smith plans to attend Herkimer College to study science and then apply for the physicians program at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. She also is doing internships in May including at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Being in a CTE class prepares you for the world of work and teaches you how to support and rely on your classmates through teamwork – similarly to how you would with co-workers, Smith said. Child and Family Services students work with and teach young children during class.

“You get put right in a setting where you’re doing a job, and if you don’t do your part, then the whole thing falls apart,” Smith said.

Open House

Students, families and community members are welcome to attend the Open House to visit CTE and Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School classrooms, talk with instructors, view demonstrations and more.

VP-TECH is in its third year of operation. VP-TECH students start in ninth grade and spend four to six years in the program – leaving with a Regents diploma, an associate degree in quality assurance from Herkimer College, a certification in advanced manufacturing and connections with local businesses.

Herkimer BOCES offers the following CTE programs, which students take as juniors and seniors:

  • Automotive Technology
  • Building Construction
  • Conservation
  • Cosmetology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Culinary/Hospitality
  • Child and Family Services
  • Health Science Careers
  • Heavy Equipment
  • Information Technology Academy
  • Outdoor Power Equipment
  • Visual Communications Media Arts
  • Welding and Metal Fabrication Technology

Herkimer BOCES CTE programs have articulation agreements for college credits in place with 24 post-secondary institutions, and it is recommended that all CTE students complete a minimum of a two-week job shadowing internship in a related career field.

As a result, graduates of Herkimer BOCES CTE programs are likely to go to college and/or work in their career fields. Of the 2015-16 graduates of Herkimer BOCES, 78.39 percent are either in post-secondary and advanced training or are employed in a job related to their CTE program. Another 21 percent are employed in other career fields.

Building a future

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Cosmetology student Alyssa Cummings graduated from Herkimer BOCES and Mount Markham in June 2017 and is now working as a hairdresser at Wendy’s Beauty Salon in Ilion.

Cummings hopes to get an esthetician license and eventually work on Broadway doing makeup, skin care and hair.

Attending a Career and Technical Education program at Herkimer BOCES allowed her to follow a career path she was interested in.

“It’s a great thing because you can get certifications and licenses while in high school,” she said. “It’s really great that I could do that in high school and then start my career right after. Within a month of graduation, I was working.”

Students attending Career and Technical Education programs at Herkimer BOCES had a 94 percent graduation rate for the 2016-17 school year. Follow-up surveys of Herkimer BOCES 2015-16 graduates show that 99.37 percent of respondents are employed, in the military or are in college or other post-secondary and advanced training.

Many students are introduced to Herkimer BOCES CTE programs through visits during eighth grade and 10th grade or during the annual Open House. This year’s Open House takes place from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex at 352 Gros Blvd. in Herkimer.

Cummings went to Sophomore Visitation Day at Herkimer BOCES and then attended Open House with her parents to find out more about the Cosmetology program.

“It really did show you all you can do and what BOCES really offers kids,” she said.

‘Building my portfolio’

Cummings not only had success with her Cosmetology class at Herkimer BOCES, but she also won first place in the “Cosmetology Senior” competition at the New York State SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Championships, and she represented Herkimer BOCES at the SkillsUSA National Conference from in Louisville, Kentucky.

The career path was something she was interested in for a long time, and Herkimer BOCES allowed her to follow that path.

“I’ve always wanted to be a hairdresser since I was about 9 years old because my aunt is one,” she said.

BOCES helped her prepare for getting a job and progressing toward her long-term goals, she said.

“I wanted to be able to start getting experience – building my portfolio and abilities,” she said.

‘A chance to grow’

Briana Goggin, a 2013 graduate of the Herkimer BOCES Health Science Careers program and Poland Central School District, also has lofty goals.

Goggin is now in her senior year at Hartwick College in Oneonta, where she is a pre-med student majoring in biology with a focus on stem cell research. She has been participating in a research project studying the dedifferentiation of regenerative cells in axolotl salamanders – and even received a $1,600 grant for her project.

She is taking her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) at the end of May and then hopes to finalize her plans for graduate school and take some time to travel. She also plans to earn her doctorate and work in a job that allows her to do stem cell research, while also helping people and interacting with patients.

Goggin has found that college is similar to BOCES in that people have various majors, and you have to navigate through everything going on to also focus on your field of study, she said.

“If I didn’t go to BOCES, I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “BOCES really gives you a chance to grow. You get to meet a diverse group of people, and everybody has their different trades going on. Then you come to college; the same exact thing is happening.”

Her experiences at BOCES – including in the classroom, clinical visitations at Folts Homes and Valley Health Services and a BOCES career day that introduced her to Hartwick College – helped lead to her career path, she said.

“Everybody says if you go to BOCES, you’re not going to do anything or that you’re going to go work in your trade – and it can be that if you want it to – but it also can be a stepping stone,” she said. “It has to be what you want. If you want to make it, you can make it.”

‘What you can do’

Herkimer BOCES Welding and Metal Fabrication Technology students Hannah Coffin and Derek LiBritz, both seniors of West Canada Valley, said they enjoy being able to do welding and other work right in class.

“It’s helpful to be able to have hands-on to show you what you can do,” Coffin said.

Coffin said her father is a welder, so she wanted to learn the trade too. After graduation, she plans to go right into work as a welder and eventually take over her dad’s welding business, and BOCES has assisted her with reaching that goal.

“It has helped me get certifications that can boost me in the career field,” she said.

LiBritz said his interest in welding started from seeing his dad do welding work around the house. A friend of his from Poland also went into welding through Herkimer BOCES and makes great money in the career field, he said.

“And now I just love it,” LiBritz said.

Welding and other CTE classes are helpful for preparing you for a career, LiBritz said.

“It’s all hands-on, and you actually get a feel for the trade,” he said. “Instead of just learning it in a book, you can actually do it. Between a book and hands-on, it’s completely different.”

LiBritz considering many options such as working for construction companies, going to underwater welding school and joining the Navy.

“Definitely something with welding,” he said.

‘Learned a lot’

Herkimer BOCES Conservation student Patrick Reardon, a senior of Little Falls, said exploring in the woods, hunting and going to camp at Pine Lake led to his interest in the career field.

“I’ve always loved being outside,” he said.

Reardon saw the Conservation program during his Journey from 8 to Great visit to Herkimer BOCES as an eighth-grader and decided to join it.

“It helped me a lot,” he said. “I learned a lot in here.”

CTE classes can be a great route to go for many students, Reardon said.

“I think kids that come here for trades, they come here and do hands-on stuff, and it gives them a good basis for the trade,” he said.

Reardon plans to go to college – possibly to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry – and go into a career in forestry or natural resource management.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said, of continuing his education from Herkimer BOCES in college. “It should be fun.”

‘Opened up my mind’

Herkimer BOCES Visual Communications Media Arts student Megan Bloomfield, a senior of Frankfort-Schuyler, enjoys photography and being creative, and she found out about the program through the Journey from 8 to Great.

“I saw all the artwork, and I just instantly fell in love with this class,” she said.

She then attended Open House too.

“It helped me a lot more to figure out what I wanted,” she said.

Bloomfield plans to attend Cazenovia College to study photography and become a professional photographer, and the Herkimer BOCES Visual Communications Media Arts class has assisted her with that goal.

“It definitely has,” she said. “It definitely opened up my mind with photography and helped me learn a lot more.”

During the class, Bloomfield also has learned about design and other topics, but during projects, she always tries to get involved with the photography aspect of it.

“Anytime I can get my hands on a camera,” she said.

‘Learn better hands-on’

Herkimer BOCES Heavy Equipment student Logan Acker, a senior of Herkimer, said being able to take a CTE class has been a huge benefit to him.

“I learn better hands-on,” he said. “I think actually being able to go out and do what you actually want to do in a career, I think it helps you out a lot more.”

Acker said he originally wanted to go directly into a heavy equipment related career field, but he has since enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he also will be working in diesel mechanics. He still plans to pursue a career in the field after his time in the Marine Corps.

“If I can run and maintain the equipment, I figured that would help me a lot when I get out,” he said.

Acker first found out about the Heavy Equipment program through Sophomore Visitation, and he was interested in it and the opportunity to operate the equipment. Since then, the class has allowed him to earn certifications and permits as he learns about the industry.

“It has helped me get more experience by getting out in the field,” he said.

‘Take it in’

Herkimer BOCES Outdoor Power Equipment student Austin Daley, a senior of Owen D. Young, said he joined the program because he likes small engines and one of his friends took the class.

His goal is to earn a commercial driver’s license and work for a township – in a job such as driving plows.

Daley said the class is “a lot of fun,” and CTE programs are helpful for students.

“It teaches you how to work in a career field and be good at a trade,” he said.

Daley also offered some advice for students considering entering CTE programs.

“Do something that you’re interested in,” he said. “Don’t just do it to get out of school. It’s a lot of fun if you listen, take it in and enjoy it.”

‘Variety of skills’

Herkimer BOCES Building Construction student James Baisley, a senior of Dolgeville, found out about the program during the Journey from 8 to Great and then saw the house that students in the class build each year during Open House.

“I’ve always been interested in construction since I was small,” he said. “I always loved building stuff – from treehouses to everything else.”

He was interested in a couple of different CTE programs, and his friend recommended Building Construction because you can gain experience with carpentry, electric, masonry and plumbing work all in one class.

“You learn a whole wide variety of skills,” Baisley said.

CTE classes are helpful for students who feel like they aren’t very good in a traditional classroom setting, Baisley said.

“I like working with my hands,” he said. “I’m not much for tests or paperwork.”

Baisley plans to attend Hudson Valley Community College to study residential, commercial and powerline electrician work with a goal of becoming an overhead lineman working on powerlines.

Looking back at his time thus far in the Building Construction program, Baisley said he learned real-world skills through hands-on work, and it prepared him for college.

“I don’t regret one bit coming here,” he said.

‘An amazing opportunity’

Herkimer BOCES Culinary/Hospitality student Gabrielle Rhyde, a senior of Richfield Springs, said she was interested in BOCES because her brother went to BOCES before her, and her love of cooking comes from her mother.

Rhyde also enjoys drawing and artwork, and the Culinary/Hospitality program allows her a chance to blend her interests.

“I just love the whole feel of it – the aura I get at this place,” she said. “I get to put art in food.”

At Herkimer BOCES, you meet new people and grow close to your classmates, Rhyde said.

“This is a great program, it really is. It gives us an amazing opportunity,” she said. “It gave me more confidence in myself to be more spontaneous and go out there and do things I didn’t think I could do.”

Rhyde wants to become a baker, and she plans to apply to Mohawk Valley Community College and the Culinary Institute of America. Taking a CTE class put her on the path toward those goals, she said.

“You learn so much from this, you really do. You get a head start,” she said. “It gives you a leg up when you go in the real world. It’s a great opportunity.”

Rhyde especially enjoys baking cakes and making flower decorations on them.

“I love working with desserts,” she said. “Maybe someday I’ll own my own shop.”