Jessica Graham, Veterinary Science teacher at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, center, supervises students caring for a dog in the Wunsche Pet Clinic.
HOUSTON – June 13, 2018 – The Veterinary Science program at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School received national recognition this year from Advance CTE, a nonprofit organization that supports Career and Technical Education programs across all 50 states and U.S. territories.
Annually, the organization selects one outstanding program for each of 15 career clusters to receive the Excellence in Action Award at a national conference in the spring. Wunsche’s Veterinary Science program received the award for the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources career cluster, a large category that includes numerous programs.
“All of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource Programs – everything from welding to woodshop to plant science and horticulture, environmental science, food science – all of those different areas were competing for this award,” said Jessica Graham, Veterinary Science teacher and FFA sponsor.
Graham attributes the program’s selection to several factors, not the least of which is the Wunsche Pet Clinic that is located on campus and provides opportunities for interaction between the students and faculty with community members.
“We offer services to the community, and that in turn helps to showcase what Spring ISD is doing with Career and Technical Education and how beneficial it is for the kids to have this hands-on opportunity,” Graham said.
It is not unusual to walk into the pet clinic and see students working with animals under Graham’s supervision.
“Since I was little it has always been my dream to be a veterinarian and work with animals,” said Elias Tejada, a recent graduate. “I’ve learned a lot here: how to groom better, dealing with small animals, how to hold them, administer vaccinations, administer tests. I feel like all these little things are the building blocks to succeeding in the future as a veterinarian.”
Tejada is planning a career in either veterinary science or agriculture, and he credits the program at Wunsche with preparing him for postsecondary education and a career he had once only dreamed of.
Taviona Myers, also a recent graduate, has her future career already mapped out, starting with her enrollment this fall at Texas A&M University and ending in about eight years with a veterinarian degree. But her career pursuit actually began three years ago when she started classes at Wunsche.
“It was mind-blowing at first, honestly. Going into here was really the reason why I wanted to come to Wunsche. I heard about their vet program and how we have so much hands-on activity with animals every day. So it really helped me with knowing that, yeah, this is what I really want to do with my life. With other places, you are learning about it, but you never really know until you are actually doing it,” Myers said.
Both Myers and Tejada have gained valuable experience while working as interns at a local vet clinic, and they have graduated with some certifications already in hand – benefits of the program at Wunsche that were cited by Advance CTE.
Aligned with industry demands, the program offers veterinary assistant certifications that allow students to immediately enter the workforce or to work part-time while pursuing a higher degree; provides work-based learning opportunities and internships to help students gain real-world experience; and supports students in their postsecondary pursuits by offering 17 Advanced Placement courses and the opportunity to earn up to 30 dual credits at Lone Star College. In fact, Wunsche students pursuing an associate degree in veterinary technology can complete nearly half their coursework before high school graduation.
In addition, Graham says the pet clinic is not the only way the school and community work together. Partnerships with businesses, universities, area veterinarian clinics and even the district’s own K-9 unit play an important role in the success of the program.
To strengthen its offerings even further, the school has built partnerships with Texas A&M University-Kingsville and with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M to offer direct pathways for students into those degree programs.
Accepting the award, also gave Graham the opportunity to share her experience with other CTE teachers across the nation. Although Wunsche’s program began in 2006 when the school opened, Graham says it is still an innovative concept for secondary schools in other parts of the country. “Being able to be presented with the award and be able to speak a little bit about it to this group of people was really quite amazing and very humbling,” Graham said.