Celebrating the Gift of CTE

By Brett Pawlowski

When it comes to doing work around the house, I’m largely self-taught: My dad, for all his virtues, was a fairly impatient person and never took the time to teach me the basics of home or car maintenance. I was the kid who had to hold the flashlight, if I was allowed near a project at all. And, to compound the issue, no one even broached the idea of CTE classes when I was in high school, so I didn’t know enough to pursue those either. So while I’m proud of the limited skills I’ve developed, I also realize how little I really know how to do, and regret that I didn’t learn a lot more in this area when I was younger.

So this Christmas, my 13 year old had a present under the tree that I wish I had gotten at his age: A starter tool kit, with all the basic tools and a sturdy case to carry them in. He was more excited about it than I thought he’d be (almost as excited as me!); he’s already put it to use by assembling an aquarium stand and modding one of his Nerf guns, and he’s already asking me about projects we can do together. I may be posting pictures of a home-built Adirondack chair in the near future.

I mention this for a couple of reasons: First, for those of you with pre-teens and teenagers, think about a tool kit as a birthday or holiday present. It’s practical, cool, and gives them something they can take with them as they go out into the world in the years to come. But more importantly, I want to thank all the CTE teachers, who every day are imparting the kinds of knowledge and skills I wish I had gained when I was a kid. Whether you’re teaching industrial arts, culinary, robotics, finance or anything else, you’re building the capable, self-sufficient adults of tomorrow, I appreciate the work you all do, and I wish I had had access to teachers like you when I was younger.

Happy New Year, and best wishes from all of us for a great year to come.