Next Career Pathways at Grand Rapids High School

Continuing the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (IASC) Next Career Pathways series, we will highlight individual schools and communities. For this highlight we will turn our focus to Grand Rapids High School (GRHS). Local business owner Megan Kellin; 10th grader Emma Braford; and science teacher Shelly Lindstrom shared their thoughts on Next Career Pathways. 

Braford took the Small Wildlife Management class through the Natural Resources pathways, and will be taking Woodland Stewardship and Large Wildlife Management classes next year. She is particularly excited for the foresting project she will get to do in the Woodland Stewardship class. 

“From being in Small Wildlife Management, I learned how to follow the problem solving cycle and how to apply the aspects of the sustainability triangle—ecological, economic, and social—to that cycle when solving an environmental issue,” Braford shared. 

After high school, Braford plans to attend college to get her four-year degree in Agricultural and Natural Resources. She said that Career pathways helped her to think about what she would like to do after high school by showing her the wide variety of options within the natural resources field and what type of schooling is required for each career.

“I’ve had my eyes opened to what wildlife biologists do and Career Pathways has not only driven me to aspire to be a Wildlife Biologist, but has also helped steer me in the right direction,” said Braford. 

Becca Eddy, a senior at GRHS, has taken nearly all of the healthcare pathway courses and had an internship at Essentia Health Deer River/Grand Rapids Medical Centers last summer. 

“These classes helped me gain background knowledge on what I was seeing and learning about during my internship. They helped jump start my future career. I encourage everyone who might be interested to take these classes,” said Eddy. 

Braford also would recommend other students should participate in Career Pathways.

“Someone may have a general idea of what they want to do, such as I did, but Career Pathways will help narrow down their idea by providing courses they can take to get a feel for different career paths out there,” Braford stated. “Once someone does have an idea of the career path they want, Career Pathways classes will get them on track for their career before they’re even out of high school. Career Pathways is a great way to prepare for life after high school.”

Lindstrom has always been passionate about learning. Her original plan going into college was to major in biology and then go to medical school. 

“But as often happens in life, unexpected experiences began to make me question the plan I had for myself,” Lindstrom said. 

After becoming a leader of a study group, she realized that she really enjoyed preparing for the group and helping her fellow classmates understand the material. 

“After several people asked if I had ever considered being a teacher, I realized I had to stop and reevaluate,” Lindstrom shared. “I realized that I loved science and I loved sharing that love of science with others. The rest was easy.”

Lindstrom became a biology teacher with an emphasis in human anatomy and physiology. She has been teaching for the last 26 years. Currently she teaches seven science elective classes as a part of the Healthcare Career Pathway at GRHS. 

When asked about the exciting things going on in her classes, Lindstrom said, “the greatest excitement that I see is not just what is happening in one class, but the whole pathway together. I am fortunate enough to have the same students two or three times a day and over the course of two years. I have the opportunity to see their learning build layer upon layer.”

She added that students have the opportunity to explore potential careers in order to find one they are passionate about. 

“Students who complete the pathway are incredibly prepared for what comes next,” said Lindstrom. “They have been given a firm foundation that they can build on after school whether it be a CNA, technician, nurse, dentist or dietician.”

Lindstrom is also excited to continue building partnerships with entities outside of the schools. Currently her classes partner with Greenway High School and Itasca Coummunity College to teach two of the fundamental healthcare courses. Students in the healthcare pathway are able to gain experience through an internship. 

“Our students have been interning in Grand Rapids and Deer River and experiencing every aspect of the healthcare field: physical therapy, medical lab technicians, general surgery, radiology, pharmacy and more,” Lindstrom said.

From her perspective, the greatest benefit the Career Pathways program offers to students is the chance to become familiar with the broad and rewarding area of the job market. 

“Jobs are available in the job market on all levels from certificates, year long programs, two year programs, bachelor degrees and PhDs,” Lindstrom stated. “The pathway clearly provides them a leg up. But the most vital component is that our students find it beneficial as well.”

Megan Kellin knows the importance of making sure students know what opportunities are available to them. Kellin is the owner of The Lake and Company and co-owner of Hotel Rapids; and the founder and owner of be.Media House. The Next Career Pathways has worked with be.Media House as the program worked on its branding and launch. 

Kellin has been a guest speaker numerous times with local classrooms. Most recently she spoke to the marketing class at GRHS. She talked to students about owning a business, learning how to be a good conversationalist, the importance of networking, and how to get out in their community.

“They were so attentive,” said Kellin about the students. 

Kellin said that she would like to offer employment to students through the Career Pathways program in the future. She has already had experience employing high school students and said, “high school students have been our best employees.”

Kellin is passionate about showing local students how many opportunities they have in this area.

“I wholeheartedly believe in the Career Pathway program, no matter where it is,” said Kellin. She continued, “I kind of wanted these kids to understand how many resources they have in this community.”

When Kellin thinks of the future of the Career Pathways program, she thinks of her own kids. 

“I want to build a community that I want to raise my family in,” said Kellin. “We’re maybe there. I’m still looking at other communities and how they’re doing it, not necessarily on a Career Pathways level but what kind of opportunities am I looking for when my kids are in high school?”

Kellin added that not only is she interested in the program for personal reasons, but also for her businesses. She sees great opportunities in the ability to connect with students and utilize young minds.

This connection between businesses, students, and teachers is critical to the Next Career Pathways program. The next steps will be to continue building on these bonds, and to share that with the greater community. 

“My hope is that the program will continue to grow in its familiarity,” Lindstrom commented. “Students and parents need to be aware of the options the pathway provides so they can make sound scheduling choices throughout high school. The community also needs to know that we have students ready, willing and able to learn in their place of business. They just need the opportunity.”