A conversation about Career & Technical Education Month

The other important thing they did, Cabot gave money to the Community Foundation to help students buy their tools, their supplies, and testing, which means they wouldn’t have a barrier to keep them from being able to come to the career center. Cabot has been one of our best supporters.

Alice Davis, Executive Director, SCCTC

The second installment of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month brings us to Susquehanna County Career & Tech Center (SCCTC). In 2008, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation began its development of Marcellus Shale in Susquehanna County. Shortly after that Cabot developed two wells on the campus of Elk Lake School District; there, it was introduced it to the SCCTC. Since, the relationship between SCCTC and Cabot has strengthened, as evidenced by:

  • Over $200,000 in investments in student scholarships and paid out to-date,
  • 100s of hours spent in the classroom by Cabot employees;
  • and the recognition of the partnership before a Senate Briefing Committee in Washington D.C. by SCCTC Executive Director, Dr. Alice M. Davis.

To reflect on how far this partnership has come, I took some time to catch up with Dr. Davis. Here is our conversation:

Dr. Davis, how much has SCCTC grown since the natural gas industry entered the region eight plus years ago? Can you quantify this regarding new classrooms, expansion of programs (both traditional and adult programming), the number of students, connection to natural gas supply, etc.?

“Since the inception of the natural gas industry in 2008, SCCTC has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2013, we opened a new building and added five new programs including our Practical Nurse program. Due to the natural gas industry, our most successful program is Welding. Not only has Welding been successful on the high school level but year round we offer adult Welding classes. Regarding infrastructure, Leatherstocking Gas Company’s natural gas service to Elk Lake School District has allowed the SCCTC to switch over to more modern equipment; saving thousands of dollars a year on our utility bills.”

Cabot has partnered with SCCTC in some ways. Can you elaborate on these in particular: NTEIC scholarships, pipe donation to welding program, & The Challenge Program?“Since the inception of the Marcellus Shale development, Cabot understood the value of positive community relationships if natural gas development was to be successful. In addition to numerous, generous donations, they donated their most lucrative resource to this cause-Time. They have served on my Director’s Advisory Board as well as our Occupational Advisory Board. They also annually participate in our Graduation and Award’s Ceremonies, Energy Career Day, NOCTI competitions and the Challenge Program. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation has also donated supplies to the Welding Program and annually donate thousands of dollars for student’s uniforms, tools, testing fees and whatever needs they have to be successful in their program areas. They were one of the largest sponsors of the “2011 Susquehanna County Workforce Development EXPO”, held at the SCCTC, and was designed to educate the community about the benefits associated with the development of the Marcellus Shale. With their cutting edge approach to building these positive community relationships, they have paved the way for the entire industry to enjoy these same alliances.”

Approximately how many students have been positively impacted by the Cabot Scholarship? If you don’t have the numbers, I can request from Community Foundation.

“The donations of more than $200,000 from Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation through the Community Foundation have impacted more than 700 students over the past eight years.” (Emphasis Added)

You had the opportunity to speak in Washington D.C. on the impact CTE had on students, the community, and the economy. Could you summarize some of what you said during this testimony?“I was invited to not only represent the state of Pennsylvania but the nation as a whole at a Senate Briefing in Washington, DC. As part of a distinguished panel of four, I asked the Senate committee to bring about a change of culture regarding CTE Education. I stressed the importance of placing value across the country on the dignity of the type of work for which CTE’s provide training because they are the workforce of the future. I also explained that CTE’s are much different than the Vocational schools of the past; we incorporate academic as well as technical skills in rigorous training programs; importance is also placed on the additional soft skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.  We discussed core issues facing rural communities within the context of CTE including challenges in teacher recruitment and retention, technical infrastructure, adequate funding, and rural employer capacity. Nearly a quarter of all U.S. students live in an area defined as rural making these issues all the more pressing. I shared with the Senate that career and technology education saves the school districts money by providing an education avenue for those students that might otherwise drop out. We don’t just train for jobs; we train for the jobs that will provide our students with the skills necessary to acquire a job that will provide them with a family sustainable wage.”

SCCTC continues to grow in popularity. The school, seemingly, is bursting at the seams from the number of students you have various programs. What is the future for SCCTC? Where are the growth trends for SCCTC? 

“At the SCCTC, we are focusing on continuing to grow in our current program areas. We will also focus on our adult program offerings, increasing these offerings as workforce needs change. We will focus on implementing strategies that better prepare our students for the future. At this time, the growth trends for the SCCTC are clearly in our welding and health care programs. If workforce needs change, so will program focus at the SCCTC.”

You have been an educator for a very long time. You have undoubtedly helped thousands if not tens of thousands of students in your career. Please share with our viewers why you entered teaching and, more specifically, how you transitioned into a CTE?

“I was inspired first to become a School Counselor due in large part to a family tragedy. I am extremely sensitive to young people’s issues. I firmly believe that we can’t educate students to their highest potential if we don’t address their emotional needs. I like to think that the most positive impact I have had with students is not in my role as Executive Director, but in my dual role as School Counselor. I transitioned into career and technology education because I truly believe that if funded properly career and technology education will change the future of this country and provide us with the workforce necessary to compete at a higher level globally. There is no reason for our jobs to go to other countries if we put the same importance on the rest of the world on a trained workforce. I believe we need to educate our students in the least amount of time, with the least amount of debt in a high priority job so that they can sustain a family. Our young people are in debt to the tune of a trillion dollars, and many of them can’t get a job that affords them the opportunity to pay off the debt for their education and at the same time afford an acceptable lifestyle. Although statistics show that career and technical jobs are the waves of the future, most high school graduates go to college rather than trade schools. Secondary schools need to provide information regarding the ability to get a job in the path our students take and not just focus on the number of graduates that attend college. Our young people need to be informed if we are to stop this trend that is bankrupting our society!”

Regulatory overview of methane emission reductions, water recycling
February is Career and Technical Education Month
Bill desRosiers

Raised in Highland Falls, New York, William desRosiers learned about responsible resource development, firsthand, as a part of his family's mining business. William received his B.S. in Management, B.A.in History and MBA from Misericordia University. He currently serves in External Affairs for Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. His primary responsibilities include strengthening media relationships, managing company-run fundraising programs, building better community relations and representing Cabot every chance he has.

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