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CTE Alumni Profile: Corey Clark

The following profile was written by CTE alum Corey Clark ... 


Five years ago my life was changed forever. School was always rough for me. Sitting in a classroom. Being taught multiple topics and theories a certain way and struggling to find the relevance in it all. I was struggling physically, mentally, and academically. I dreaded showing up each day knowing that I would struggle throughout each and every class. For me to succeed, something had to change. 

I applied into the Pre-tech program at CTE for my sophomore year of high school. However, I was very nervous. If they had to look at my report card to see if I was eligible, I'd be out for sure. Little did I know, CTE wanted students like me. They wanted students who struggled to find relevance to class content in a traditional classroom setting, and they wanted to set them up for success physically, mentally, and academically. I got accepted into the program the beginning of that year. Instantly I had improved all around. The different teaching style, classroom setting,  and attention to each student's different abilities set all students up for success in school. After completing my sophomore year, it was a night and day comparison to my past years of school. Years prior, I was barely passing classes and dreaded showing up. At the end of this year, I was a high honor student and looked forward to each school day. 

My junior year, I was accepted into the Natural Resources: Mechanical program. In this program, I was introduced to a completely different learning environment. The learning spaces consisted of a small classroom, a welding and mechanical shop, and a large outdoor heavy equipment operation area. It was awesome to have the instructors come up with education material that directly related to our different classroom spaces. Pretty quickly, all the students were learning about business and financial management within our curriculum, using math and science skills in the welding shop building different projects, learning technical skills by working on small engines and heavy equipment in the shop, and learning operational skills out in the heavy equipment area. In addition to that, students also got certifications such as OSHA 10, tractor safety, and first aid & CPR. For events and open houses during that school year, my instructors had me be the program tour guide. If upcoming students were interested in the program, they were given the opportunity to visit with me and I would showcase all the different aspects that the program covered. During my junior year, I was still a high honors student. I also had the honor of being chosen by the program instructors as the Outstanding Student of the Natural Resources: Mechanical program. 

I attended the Natural Resources: Forestry program for my senior year. This program challenged students to work together in executing and implementing a forest management program on an existing woodlot and a functioning greenhouse and hydroponics lab. Students had to work together to make sure everyday jobs were taken care of inside the greenhouse and that the forestry equipment was ready for use. Gaining certifications for The Game of Logging 1 and 2, our team learned safe tree-felling and lumber processing practices. The instructors in this program played the primary role as our “employers.” Students would learn how to build strong resumes and cover letters. The students would then apply for jobs within the program, such as a tree-feller, a dozer operator, and landing manager. The students would undergo a live interview process with the resumes and cover letters they made. The grade they got on the project determined which job position they were placed. Again, I was a high honors student. And again, I was chosen as the Natural Resources: Forestry Outstanding Student. 

Not only does CTE provide an effective on-site learning environment, they also work to put students out on actual job sites within their interests. The staff within the Co-op Coordination office work with students who are exceeding the standard within their programs. Their main goal is to take students who are unsure about what they want to do for work and place them in different workplaces within the local community to find the students' niche. When I went into the Co-op office and talked with a coordinator, she asked me a simple question. "Corey, what is something you'd like to try?" I thought for a minute and answered with: "How about operating a Snowcat?" She then replied to me, "Let me see what I can do."

Soon after, I had an interview with the manager of Cochrans Ski Area in Richmond for a Snowcat Operator and Snowmaker position. After getting the position, I was able to work at Cochrans during the school week as well as get school credit for the time that I was there. Not only that, I would get paid to be there as well. How can you beat that? This would be my new learning environment for years to come. Thanks to the Co-op Coordination team, I had found my dream job. 

Catching up with me today, you'll find me working at Smugglers Notch Ski Resort as one of their primary Snowcat operators in the winter, and working at A. Nadeau and Co. as a bucket loader operator. I love both of my positions and both companies I work for. I wake up in the morning (or night!) looking forward to going to work. My attendance at the Tech Center through the last three years of high school was the best time of my life and set me up for a successful career out of high school. All of the skills I learned in those three years prepared me to be a successful high school graduate. I felt well equipped to jump right into the workforce and felt comfortable with what the world held in store for me. 

I would recommend the Tech Center to anyone that struggles in the typical classroom setting and/or who is unsure about what they want to do in their life. CTE recognizes every student is an individual and will work endlessly to make sure the student excels. With this philosophy, I was able to thrive and excel physically, mentally, and academically. That is exactly how school should be. 

~Corey Clark

See what my parents have to say about the Tech Center:

"Parents want to see their kids grow, excel, and succeed. Many kids find themselves struggling in the traditional learning environment. This is where we found Corey until he started at the Tech program. We immediately saw a change in Corey. His grades took a turn for the better and actually liked school. It didn't stop there. The Tech program helped him identify his interests and created opportunities for him in the job market. He graduated with a full time job that he loves and we continue to see him grow, excel, and succeed as a fine young man. We are grateful for the Tech program helping to bring out his potential." ~Tim and Cathy Clark.