Students Learn Trades in Dual Enrollment Program with TSC

by Ronnie Zamora/LFCISD

Forty-two Los Fresnos High School students are learning the specialized trades, thanks to an dual enrollment partnership with Texas Southmost College.

The goal of every school district is to prepare students for college or a career. Students in these trade programs are getting both.

Ten additional LFHS students are enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) programs this fall, seeking to earn certification in December. Another cohort of 10 new students will be enrolled in the spring semester.

The 42 students are enrolled in the construction trades, electrical, auto body and automotive technician programs – and half of them are taking classes in the auto technician courses.

The nursing students attend in the morning, while the others attend two courses in the afternoon.

Students get credit at LFHS and TSC upon successful completion of the courses.

“We have to make sure that students get out of high school with at least a certificate of some sort,” said Ronnie Rodriguez, Director of the Los Fresnos CISD Career and Technical Education program. “In this case, they also have a chance to get certification in a high-paying skill.”

Los Fresnos CISD and TSC approached each other with the idea to give students the opportunity to become certified in a skill and get college and high school credit at the same time.

“The Dual Enrollment Pathway program facilitates a smooth transition into the Career and Technical programs at Texas Southmost College,” said Dr. Murad Abusalim, TSC Dean of STEM/CTE. “Following a pathway saves students time and money because they can begin taking college courses in high school that count toward a certificate or an associate degree at TSC. In most cases, students are able to complete a full sequence of first semester level courses and transition into the second semester level at TSC upon graduation from high school.”

Frank Lopez is Department Chair for the TSC CTE programs, which offers degrees and certificates in Auto Body Repair, Automotive Technology, Commercial and Residential Electrician, Construction Technology, and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there for students in these programs in regards to trades,” Lopez said. “Once they learn a trade, that’s something that nobody can take away from you. The industry is definitely booming. There are jobs out there for them.”

The Dual Enrollment Pathways program at TSC is being offered in collaboration with several school districts in Cameron County.TSC offers Los Fresnos CISD students the opportunity to be trained on campus by highly qualified faculty.

“They obtain a lecture-based and hands-on training at the shops of the different CTE programs offered at the college,” Abusalim said. “In addition, students are provided with the benefit of TSC’s student support services to assist them achieve success.”

Because the school year is only a few weeks old, students are learning basics of measurements in the Construction Trades program, said instructor Daniel Zuniga.

“Knowledge of mathematics is very important in construction business,” Zuniga said. “By the time the school year is over, students will have learned the skills to construct a small building.”

Zuniga stressed safety as the highest priority in the business. “We emphasize safety every day.”

Once students graduate from Los Fresnos High School, many of them will have earned credit at TSC as well.

“TSC has become a very good partner to us,” Rodriguez said. “We appreciate everything they have done for our students. So many people have been helping get this program going. We’re excited where it could lead and the skills the students are learning.”

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