The Cobre Valley Institute of Technology (CVIT) not only provides job training for high school students in the rural areas of eastern Arizona, but also gives them tools to deal with life beyond the classroom.
From agriculture to health care, CVIT offers career and technical education programs to enhance the college experience or make them career ready at graduation.
CVIT is one of 14 Career Technical Education Districts (CTED) in Arizona, established in 2000. Since 2001, it has grown in size and scope to reach six rural Arizona communities, serving students from Superior, Miami, Globe, San Carlos, Hayden-Winkelman and Kearny.
Miami native and CVIT board member Franceen Gregovich-Benton has been there from the beginning, and if she has her way, they’ll have to drag her out kicking and screaming.
“There are two things I will stay on as long as I can and that is the CVIT board and the Tri City Fire board,” she says of her service to the community.
Gregovich-Benton says she was serving on the Miami Unified School District board at the time of CVIT’s inception, but was on the fence about whether to run for the board. Nearly two decades later though, she is very happy she did.
“We hired Pete Guzman as superintendent and started out at the Central Campus with three schools and 12 kids participating,” she says. “We’re constantly looking at new programs. The CNA and dental assistant programs have just taken off…. I love it.”
The reach of CVIT has grown to where there are now more than 1,400 students in satellite CTE programs including nine at Globe; nine at Miami; nine at San Carlos; six at Hayden; one at Ray, and five in Superior.
The roots of Gregovich-Benton’s desire to serve in the program come from her own life experiences. After graduation from Miami High School in 1975, she briefly attended Arizona State University, but it wasn’t an option she wanted to pursue. So she came home to the Globe-Miami area, but not without some caveats from her parents.
“My father said it was okay, but I couldn’t sit on the couch and watch TV all day,” she remembers. “I decided to get involved with CVIT because I wanted to help come up with a plan for kids who didn’t want or were unable to go to college. It’s great to see these kids get their licenses to work.”
CTE programs combine classroom instruction, laboratory work, work-based learning experiences and participation in student organizations. Participation in CVIT helps increase graduation rates, offering classroom relevance to students who might otherwise drop out through sheer boredom.
Research cited by CVIT shows that 81% of all students who drop out of high school would have stayed if they had only found high school to be relevant and interesting.
Additionally, high school students who graduate with a career and technical education concentration are 2.5 times more likely to be employed while pursuing a college education than students on a college prep track.
Participation in CVIT programs can also help students fund their own post-secondary educations with high paying jobs in several areas, such as cosmetology and medical fields.
CVIT programs are intensive and require students to get out of their comfort zones to prepare for an adult workplace.
Much of the work takes place at community partner sites such as Gila Community College (GCC), Eastern Arizona College (EAC) and Central Arizona College (CAC).
Training is generally outside of traditional high school class time, meaning that students must go above and beyond a normal school day.
“It’s not like high school: they have to plan and behave like adults,” Gregovich-Benton says. “They also have to participate outside of regular school hours.”
CVIT programs are available to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors at Globe, Hayden, Miami, San Carlos and Superior high schools. It is also open to home-schooled or charter school students, as well as dropouts of high school age.
CVIT students earn both high school credit and college credit for their Central Program classes that prepare students for community college and/or industry certificates. After the completion of our two-year program (and in some cases, only one year), students are career ready and have started their associate’s degree.
CVIT Central Programs are free as CVIT pays all tuition and fees.
“We want to make sure everyone is covered,” Gregovich-Benton says. “We work closely with local schools and colleges and our community partners to make it happen.”
Community partners include Resolution Copper, Freeport-McMoRan and ASARCO Grupo Mexico.
CVIT students can earn several industry and college certifications upon graduation from central college programs, including:
- Dental Assistant
- Fire Science—Level I Certificate of Proficiency (available in Gila County only)
- Fire Science—Level II Certificate of Proficiency (available in Gila County only)
- Medical Assistant
- RPT (Phlebotomy Certification)
- Nursing Assistant
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA):
- Welding Technology
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.