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Career & Technical Education of CelinaISD Provides A Challenging Academic Program To Develop Future-Ready Students

Article by Sharla Davenport

Photography by Holly Farrow

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

175,900. That is how many registered nursing jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will be available each year for the next seven years.  This shortage of nurses will likely occur in the South more than any other region.

Ryan Contreras, Director of Career and Technical Education for Celina Independent School District (ISD) at Celina High School, hopes to get students those jobs.  Celina ISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program is designed to advance students offering real world experience in area of study while providing a rigid academic education resulting in high-wage, high-demand, skilled occupations.

When Contreras started at Celina ISD three years ago, he immediately knew he wanted to expand the program and had the support of the administration, teachers, and Collin College. At the time, there were only three areas of studies offered with CTE: AV (audio visual, Agriculture and Welding, and Family Community Service, formerly known as Home Economics).  Since Contreras has been at Celina ISD, the courses have more than doubled. 

Before he could expand, Contreras surveyed Celina students determining the subjects of interest to the students.  The biggest request was more computer science courses.  Celina started with only one computer science class and now has a full-time teacher instructing several classes at different levels including Advanced Placement Computer Science.  At Celina Middle School, Robotics and Engineering was very popular, so this was introduced at the high school.  

Contreras also created a curriculum for engineering.  Celina’s CTE partnered with Project Lead the Way, a national nonprofit organization that develops curriculum focusing on computer science, engineering, and biomedical science.  Numerous engineering classes at both the middle and high schools were developed as a result.

Students also expressed a keen interest in law enforcement and public safety. Celina CTE connects with both the Celina Police and Fire Departments for various classes like Principals of Law Enforcement and Emergency Management Training. Students even “shadow” a police officer and experience daily interactions in this program. 

Perhaps the most significant partnership is the relationship between Celina CTE and Collin College, Celina Campus.  As mentioned, the national nursing shortage is an immense problem thus Health Science is “growing leaps and bounds” according to Contreras.  By affiliating with Collin College, students can earn three key certifications in Health Science prior to graduating high school. Students can complete the first two years of studies while in high school and the last two years at Collin College. Collin College now offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at the Celina Campus.  Having Collin College nearby in the same town plus completing college courses in high school greatly benefits students, a huge savings for those who wish to receive a college degree at a fraction of the time and cost. 

Currently CTE has fourteen programs of study.  Contreras hopes to expand CTE’s partnership with Collin College with more construction courses due to a short supply of construction skilled workers.  Celina High School will have a full-time teacher next year in this curriculum to help meet the need.  

Contreras anticipates CTE to continue to grow and make programs even better to help prepare a skilled workforce. He aspires to increase curricula like culinary arts and unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e., drones).  In addition, CTE plans to host a “Trades Day” with successful professionals from skilled careers illustrating the path on what classes to take and how to get these jobs.  Finally, CTE is expanding its courses at Celina Middle School with more classes and career explorations providing high school credit classes. 

Ryan Contreras is proud of the progress made by Celina’s CTE Program.  He is gratified by the support of Celina ISD, the administration, Collin College, and business partners. Contreras has been an educator for over twenty years and confidently states that “Celina is by far the best school district.” He continues that “the community itself is amazing” noting that “anything I need, I ask, and there is somebody that steps up and gives a helping hand. 

It’s the partnership between organizations like the Celina Chamber of Commerce, community partners, CTE’s advisory committees, and Collin College that help the CTE Program continue to advance. Contreras believes it is the businesses in Celina that are “100% key to students’ success like no other community.” For example, when expanding the Health Science program, Contreras notes the amount of community businesses that volunteered to help such as local pharmacies, a law firm, plus the fire department proving “how amazing this community is. You don’t find that in other places.”    

CelinaISD's partnership with the local campus of Collin College furthers the special community atmosphere of Celina. While the city is growing at a rapid pace, it is refreshing to know that Celina ISD has dedicated employees like Ryan Contreras managing the CTE Program preparing students for a successful skilled workforce or to be college-ready. For more information about Celina ISD’s CTE Program, plus exclusive videos on CTE courses, visit the newly revamped website at

  • Ryan Contreras, Director of CTE for CelinaISD
  • Collin College - Celina Campus