More than 70 CTE educators — and the success of career and technical education in city public schools — were celebrated at the UFT’s 2019 Career and Technical Education Awards Ceremony on Feb. 8 at UFT headquarters in lower Manhattan.
And while officials recently touted the all-time high graduation rate of 76 percent in New York City public schools in 2018, the graduation rate in city schools running CTE programs was even higher at 83 percent.
“We have nothing to prove to anyone anymore,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who taught in a CTE school for 12 years, told the overflow crowd of nearly 600. “We stand here in community together leading New York City with the highest graduation rate of any cohort inside any of our schools.”
Another measure of the program’s success is the educators it attracts, such as Ionia Cisse, one of two winners of the Stanley Schair Award for Excellence and Innovation. Cisse is the work-based learning coordinator at Manhattan’s HS of Fashion Industries, charged with securing internships for students.
“This is my fifth career,” said Cisse. “I modeled, I worked for Essence magazine, I had my own styling company, I was a (college) professor. But there’s nothing like where I am now, and I’m grateful. It’s a privilege.”
The former fashion editor at Essence, Cisse has a master’s degree in publishing. As a stylist or image maker, she traveled the world pulling together clothing and accessories for editorial and celebrity styling. She helped produce fashion shows.
Then she started teaching. Fashion Industries, Cisse says, “is a place where I can share with children all the things I’ve learned in fashion. They are so creative. The ideas they come up with blow me away. I’m the facilitator because it‘s really about them. I’m just supplying them with the tools they need to be their most creative — their best — selves.”
Fashion Industries, Cisse says, offers many ways students can express their love of fashion, including programs in the business of fashion, design, graphic design, visual merchandising and illustration.
Yet another measure of CTE’s success is the caliber of its students. Two years ago, Damiano Mastrandrea was the recipient of the Edwin Espalliat Award as the outstanding graduate of CTE’s Success Via Apprenticeship (SVA) program. At this year’s CTE awards ceremony, he was honored as an Outstanding Educator.
Mastrandrea was part of the design and implementation of the STEAM Center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of the city’s fastest-growing technology and manufacturing hubs. The STEAM Center, located within that business environment, provides students with educational courses, work experience and professional contacts in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
The school’s founding principal, Kayon Pryce, was the director of the SVA program when Mastrandrea was part of it and Mastrandrea joined him at the center in its second year, winning approval for three CTE programs in record time. While he didn’t work alone on the daunting program approval process, “the overall amalgamation (of information) into one centralized document and being able to defend it during an external review was my responsibility,” the honoree said.
“We have accomplished a lot to move CTE forward,” said UFT Vice President for CTE High Schools Sterling Roberson, the event organizer and master of ceremonies. “But there is still more work to do to continue to expand high-quality learning and career opportunities for our students and to build on the transformational success of CTE.”