Mary Short has enjoyed working with preschoolers since her first class in Early Childhood Education, one of five Career and Technical Education programs offered at West Salem High School.

West Salem has a preschool that 30 kids attend from 8:30-11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. High school students in the Early Childhood Education program learn how to teach the young children by planning all their activities following best practices in early childhood education.

“It’s really fun. I get to hang out with the preschoolers, and they are really cute,” Mary said.

Mary is a senior this year and plans to go to an out-of-state university next fall. Although many students who take Early Childhood Education go on to become teachers, Mary plans to become a social worker.

“I came into this CTE program thinking I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I love teachers, and get what they do, but I realized it’s not for me. I’ve always liked the idea of social work, and now I’m getting into that,” she said.

Each of Salem-Keizer’s CTE programs has a Career Tree® that that outlines dozens of  possible careers related to their CTE classes. In the case of Early Childhood Education, social worker is one of the professional careers that aligns with the program.

Mary said she wants to help young children and families have a good life through a career in foster care, perhaps with the Department of Human Services.

Early Childhood Education teacher Andrea Foley said along with learning the skills to do jobs, helping students find their passion is very important. “The point is to figure out what you want to do. All of our CTE programs are so valuable, because they help kids find their passion,” she said.

West Salem offers students a wide variety of career and technical education opportunities. They include:

  • Banking and Finance
  • Computer Programming
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Fire Science

Each program has a Career Tree® that students use to identify future careers that interest them. Teachers use the Career Tree® to help students realize that there are many more opportunities available to them than they may realize.

Early Childhood Education Career Tree at West Salem High School