CTE Success Stories: ‘Like we were actually managing a business’

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

It was Andrea Seitchik, a George Washington High School Career and Technical Education teacher, who first approached Dylan Henry about taking CTE classes.

As a 10th grader, Henry decided to give Seitchik’s Sports Marketing and Management program a try. He said he liked the first class, an introduction to the program.

“It made it seem like we were actually managing a business,” he said.

But the transition into the CTE program was challenging for Henry. He said that Seitchik helped him get through his rocky first year by working with him to develop the computer skills that were critical for the course. Another CTE teacher, Sheryl Kirby, also supported him, providing advice and information about job opportunities after graduation.

Eventually, Henry said, he adjusted to the program. It uses sports as a window into the fields of business and marketing, and through his classes, Henry said, he was able to begin to understand how marketing worked in the real world. The program made him think critically, even just to complete homework assignments. This was something he really liked about the class, he said.

Then there were the business-focused DECA competitions, where students strategize and promote their simulated businesses with students from other schools. DECA, previously known as the Distributive Education Clubs of America, is a national organization that aims to prepare young entrepreneurs in the fields of marketing, finance, hospitality, and business management through hosting competitive events for students across pre-professional fields.

The competition made Henry feel like his coursework and preparation were relevant to the business world beyond school.

“It made it seem like it was the real deal,” Henry said.

The competitions also gave him experience with presenting himself as a professional. He practiced everything from learning how to dress, to working with teammates, to talking in a business environment.

Henry graduated from George Washington in 2014. The skills he learned in the Sports Marketing and Management program have influenced his long-term goal to own his own gymnastics studio. Henry, who has competed in gymnastics since he was 3 years old, now coaches at Bensalem Gymnastics.

And Henry is also still a student — a rising sophomore at Bloomsburg University. Although he has yet to declare a major, he is interested in medicine and is considering becoming an anesthesiologist.

But sports marketing, he said, is also still a real option. Regardless of which career path he chooses, Henry said, he knows he can fall back on the skills he developed in his CTE program.

“It’s always in the back of my mind, that I have some knowledge, [and] that if I wanted to do that, I could.”

Michaela Ward was an intern at the Notebook this summer.