Collaboration Inspires Real-World Learning at CTE

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Thursday May 24, 2012

Less than two years ago, South Burlington High School (SBHS) junior Corey Belleville had no idea what CAWD was or how important that acronym would be in his life.

CAWD, or Computer Animation and Web Page Design, is a program at the Center for Technology, Essex (CTE), “designed for students interested in acquiring new media skills and entering the fast paced and rapidly changing area of animation and web design” (  For the past year, Mr. Belleville has been heavily steeped in the program, learning from both CTE instructors and from his peers in the class.

“My SBHS guidance counselor first told me about CTE, and I said I wanted to check it out,” recalled Mr. Belleville.  “At that point I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a future career.  When I walked through the door to CAWD, I said, ‘Yes, this is the place I want to be.’”

Mr. Belleville’s intuition was right on target, as he quickly discovered after starting classes this past September.   “Learning there is a hands-on experience,” he noted.  “When you’re actually able to sit down and focus on stuff that you’re interested in, it’s wonderful.”

CTE’s mission is to “provide comprehensive technical programs for all students which include career exploration, preparation, and technical literacy in a respectful learning environment” (  Mr. Belleville found this learning environment to be valuable to him as well:  “In CAWD people have strengths in different areas, and we balance each other out.  We are encouraged to meet the people in our classroom on the first day because our seats are right next to each other.  And since our desks are angled, it’s easy to reach out to ask help from another person in the class.”

This collaborative approach is an earmark for CAWD.  “Our teacher is funny and very entertaining,” noted Mr. Belleville, “and when he wants to give information, he makes it a work environment.”  Students are offered real-world assignments, such as creating websites for businesses, so it becomes critically important to use all “people in the classroom because everybody has strengths in different areas.”

“Sometimes,” continued Mr. Belleville, “I create work when people say, ‘Whoa, show me how to do this,’ and sometimes I’m the one saying, ‘Whoa, show me that.’”

Although he commutes daily to Essex, Mr. Belleville has kept close ties to SBHS, including participation in extracurricular activities such as drama (he has been in the SBHS musical each year, including this year’s performance of Once on This Island) and as an Advisory Board member for PACT.

“I would say that for anyone who’s thinking about going into a field that’s focused on an industry, definitely check it out,” responded Mr. Belleville.  When asked what guidance he might offer to younger students about CTE.  “It’s worth it.”

SOURCE: Susie Merrick, Contributor