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Pathways to Professions

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is not what it used to be. As vocational education has evolved over the past several decades, it has progressed away from the stigma and stereotype of “voc-ed” as an academic dead end. Today, CTE is not just for everyone, it offers some of the best, most fun, pragmatic, and impressive electives any student can enjoy during their high school experience.




In Springfield Public Schools (SPS), high school students have access to more than 21 CTE Learning Pathways, all of them credit bearing for college, and all of them help students gain practical skills—even if they don’t choose a technical career.

"There is a lot of variation between the pathways where it actually leads you," explains Mindy Leroux, director of high schools. "At a minimum, it gives you experience to help you understand if a given career is what you really want. Otherwise, it gives you a great foundation related to a pathway."

A Learning Pathway is a CTE program of study. Students will take a series of classes to complete a pathway, usually about six courses (total three credits). Upon graduation, they may earn a certificate related to their Learning Pathway and can choose to enter industry right after high school, or depending on the interest of study, transfer credits to a college to further their training.

“Students who complete a pathway have a graduation rate above 95% in our district,” says Leroux. “And even students who take one or two classes in a pathway, their graduation rate is more than 90%.”

The best part? There is no cost to students to take any CTE courses.

CTE Learning Pathways are offered at all four of SPS' high schools, ranging from culinary arts and video production to automotive and forestry. Industry partnerships, a key part of the SPS CTE curriculum, regularly lead to job opportunities right after high school.

Introduced in 2023, Gateways High School offers a two-year program that can lead students to earn state certification in cosmetology. Students attending the Academy of Arts and Academics have the option to focus on fine arts studio.

Young Entrepreneurs in Our CTE Programs

CTE by the Numbers


Total Career and Technical Education programs at Springfield Public Schools


Graduation rate for students
who complete a cte learning pathway


salary range for students who graduate with cte training or certification 

For CTE Teacher on Special Assignment Stacey Tuers, such programs are crucial and important to the Springfield community and economy.

"CTE programs benefit the community as a whole by providing a skilled workforce, often times right out of high school," says Tuers. "Sometimes it channels them to college, but not all the time. CTE gives them an option to explore their career opportunities and in turn they help fill jobs in our community."

Tuers strongly believes all students in our district should take a CTE course, since the learning goes beyond technical skills.

"We are teaching students employability skills. We are teaching them how to work in groups, how to collaborate, communicate with others, how to write resumes and cover letters, conduct an interview, and how to ultimately be successful in any field," explains Tuers.

For those who choose a manufacturing, technical, or service career straight out of high school, the immediate benefit is a paycheck. And while salaries vary depending on the field, skills, and job title, most high school graduates with a certification can expect a salary range between $28,000 to as much as $120,000 per year. Some employers will even pay for advanced training.

For SHS Auto Tech Teacher, Mark Simmons the impact of CTE programs can be better understood in the way they connect with the job market. Simmons is one of several CTE teachers in the district who leverages industry relationships and advisory boards to ensure his program remains competitive and students acquire industry-needed skills. Many of his students now work for local companies like Kenworth, Papé, Kendall, and Overhead Door.

"There is a shortage of technicians in every career area," says Simmons. "I recently took my students to a career expo, and they were actually being marketed to by several companies! The community colleges and industry people know our students have an edge over students who have never participated in a CTE course. Students who have taken mechanical, welding, electrical, and drafting classes come with so much background knowledge."

Simmons has seen the evolution of CTE over the years and knows first-hand the impact of such programs on Oregon’s economy. The SHS Auto Tech program has existed for more than 40 years and produced hundreds of qualified mechanics. He credits the success of CTE programs in our community to the leadership of the Springfield School District over the past decade.

“Something I have to say is kudos to Springfield Public Schools because when other school districts were cutting these programs due to budget deficits, our administration had the forethought of saying, ‘We know that these jobs are needed out there and that they will benefit our kids and we’re going to hang on to these programs.’ And now those schools that cut CTE programs are trying to get these programs up and running again,” said Simmons. 

CTE courses attract different types of students for a myriad of reasons —many are just curious or exploring their interests, while others are committed to a envisioned future.

From emerging filmmakers and chefs to future mechanics and business owners, CTE courses at Springfield Public Schools provide many pathways to a profession and are helping shape some of the most capable, entrepreneurial, flexible, and creative minds in our community.

Become An Industry Partner

Springfield Public Schools values its role in making our community a great place to live and work.
Springfield Public Schools’ CTE programs work hand in hand with community and industry partners to provide students with the knowledge and skills that will help them be successful in the workplace. Industry partners support our programs by giving their time to present to students, providing networking opportunities, serving on advisory boards that give teachers an insider look at up to the minute industry needs, trends and skills, and donating equipment and materials.
In return, our CTE programs provide those same industries with the people needed to successfully fill in-demand, family-supporting jobs right here in our own community. Listed below are ways you can get involved.

  • Hosting internships, field trips and job shadowing experiences for our students.
  • Share your knowledge and experience as a guest speaker or lead a project-based lesson in the classroom.
  • Donate in support of our CTE programs or a specific learning pathway.
  • Sponsor innovation labs and technology in our classrooms.