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CTE Practicum Programs Provide Students with Real-World Experience, Teachers from Industry


When it comes to teaching an industry skill, who better to learn from than a professional in that field? 

Wylie ISD looks to the industry when seeking out educators for the Career and Technical Education program. As a District of Innovation, Texas allows school districts to hire industry professionals to teach CTE programs.

Teacher holds black light.

Health science classes use a black light to reveal contaminants and residue to educate students on proper hand washing.

All 19 Wylie ISD Career and Technical programs of study include a practicum course.

“The practicum classes let students take their knowledge and skills from their respected classroom field of study and apply it under a supervised application,” Jason Hudson, Director of CTE and Career Connections said. 

A practicum course is the final course in a field of study that leads to job performance and internships.

Ms. Katy Petrus teaches the practicum courses in marketing and business at Wylie High School and she also helps run the Wylie Way Spirit Shop at Wylie East High School alongside Mr. James Hood and Ms. Kristie Smoot.

Teacher and students pose.

The Wylie Way Spirit Shop, located at the front of Wylie East High School, will sell customized spirit wear and products.

“The spirit shop gives students hands-on experience running business operations from sales to inventory management,” Petrus said.

Petrus brings 12 years of experience in sales and marketing to her classroom.

“I come from the business side,” Petrus said. “I have a different perspective outside of a textbook. I’ve made every mistake and have learned through my own failures and can pass that knowledge onto my students.”

Student types on laptop.

Senior Nathaniel Nerae discusses spirit apparel with senior Loren Smith in the Wylie Way Spirit Shop.

Nathaniel Nerae is a Wylie High senior in her program. 

“Every teacher I’ve had [in a CTE course] has had business-world experience,” Nerae said. “It’s a blessing to have an experienced person teaching us. I enjoy hearing and learning from their stories.”

The 544 Café is another CTE program providing hands-on experience running a real business in the practicum courses.

Student stirs bowl.

Chef Emily Guynes shows her baking and pastry students how to fold while stirring.

The café is an internship program located on the Wylie High School campus for Wylie ISD Practicum I and II culinary students.

Chef Emily Guynes, an American Culinary Federation certified pastry chef, works with culinary students in the 544 Café and runs the Practicum of Baking and Pastry program. She worked in bakeries for 10 years and also owned her own food truck for six years prior to bringing her industry experience to the classroom. 

While there are days that are lecture-based, students spend most of the week running the restaurant which is open to the public.

Girls frosts a cake.

Students learn culinary skills by icing cake pans with shaving cream.

“On Mondays we prep. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays we serve lunch and breakfast and on Fridays we clean and reflect,” Chef Guynes said.

Many other school districts have small cafés in which their CTE students run, but nothing as elaborate as Wylie ISD’s culinary program.

“There’s nothing similar to us. Other districts don’t have all three full programs that Wylie does: breakfast, lunch and baking,” Guynes said. “A lot of them only serve one meal a week, or even just once a month.”

Student bakes cookies.

Culinary students bake cookies and pies to sell during the holidays.

The 544 Café serves breakfast from 8-9 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. They will begin service to the public in October.

Follow The 544 Café on Facebook to see what’s cookin’.

Student uses icing.

Because of her experience, Chef Guynes started the Baking and Pastry courses six years ago.

TD Industries, the premier facilities services and mechanical construction company serving the Southwest, employed five Wylie ISD career and technical education students as interns this past summer.

“We are very grateful for the area businesses that allow our students to intern and job shadow,” Hudson said. “They are wonderful business partners.”

Student works on robot.

Wylie ISD also offers practicum courses in robotics and engineering.

Wylie High School senior Justin Nguyen, a robotics and welding pathway student, interned with TDI this past summer.

“My day-to-day responsibilities varied depending on where I got sent to,” Nguyen said. “At TI south campus, I explored and helped people complete their tickets,” Nguyen said. “I did that for about two weeks. Then I was rotated back to the shop for the rest of the time. 

At the shop, he was tasked with cleaning and helping prep material. 

“I think the overall best part was them teaching us how to weld pipe. I enjoyed it a lot,” Nguyen said.

Student interns

TD Industries has hired Wylie ISD practicum students to intern for them.

Nguyen has been accepted to MIAT college of technology. 

“I really love this school and am planning to do Robotics engineering,” Nguyen said.  

He offers advice to high school students on choosing a career pathway.

“You need to find what suits you the best,” Nguyen said. “The classes that you take will vary and if you see something that interests you, then go for it,” Nguyen said.

Student sands metal.

From welding to construction to business and education classes, Wylie ISD’s Career and Technical Education program offers 19 different fields of study.

Teacher talks to students.

Mr. George Matthews teaches construction courses at Wylie East High School.

To align students with their interests and openings in the job market, every other year, Wylie ISD’s CTE department uses data from the Texas Workforce to forecast which courses to offer in the future.

“We want to bridge the gap between high school students and the workforce,” Hudson said. “We try to change courses based on what students are interested in. It’s a balancing act between needs, wants, teachers and facilities.”