The Leaders of Our Future: IASC Next Career Pathways at Greenway H.S.

Continuing the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (IASC) Next Career Pathways series, we will highlight individual schools and communities. Various teachers, students and business partners will share their perspective on being a part of Career Pathways.

To kick things off, the focus will be on Greenway High School. Business and Education Pathway Instructor Pat Kittock, Greenway high school senior Summer Holm-Foss, entrepreneurial class students, and local business owner Wade Karnes all shared their experience with Career Pathways.

Kittock is a northern Minnesota girl who decided to go to college and get a degree in business.

After graduating with her undergraduate degree, Kittock got a fast-paced job working in the San Francisco Bay/Silicon Valley area of California. Through this job she was able to get her Master of Business Administration. After starting a family with her husband, they decided to move back to Minnesota and landed in the Twin Cities area.

“One day it hit me. This has been amazing and I’m proud of what I achieved, but I’ve always wanted to teach,” Kittock shared.

Kittock decided to go back to get her degree in education in order to teach at a high school level. Since then she has taught high school and also worked as an adjunct professor at Minnesota State Mankato in the education department. With all of this experience, Kittock was a perfect fit to help lead the Business and Education Pathways at Greenway High School.

When Kittock started at Greenway High School in the fall of 2019, there was no business program established. She was able to help build the business program from ground up and has seen it grow in a short amount of time.

“I’m super proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in two and a half years and with COVID on top of it,” Kittock said.

Kittock shared that the Education Pathway works closely with Itasca Community College’s (ICC) specialized teacher preparation program Class Act. Through this collaboration high school students in the Education Pathway are able to get field experience in actual classrooms, which can be a very eye-opening experience.

“The Education Pathway is for anyone who is interested in teaching, but also just working with children—so school counselors, school nurses, social work—because in all of those careers you would have to know what it’s like to work with kids,” Kittock added.

The Business Pathway starts off with an exploratory course called Business Careers Exploration. This shows students how broad going into a business field can be. From there students are able to take more specialized classes such as marketing, business and law, accounting, etc.

“The idea here is that business is a huge umbrella,” said Kittock. “I think it’s the number one graduated college major.”

Students have the option to take a capstone class to complete their Business Pathway. They can either be placed with an internship in the community, or to do a project based learning (PBL) capstone. Last year’s Advanced Marketing Project Based Learning class worked with the owners of the Grand Rapids Culver’s to pitch advertising ideas. This year’s class has been invited back to take part in the experience this spring.

Other highlights in the Business Pathway have included hearing from Itasca County Attorney Matti Adams; visiting Hotel Rapids’ yurt to learn from local business owners; designing and presenting hotel plans for a class project; a day at the Timberlake Hotel to learn about hotel and restaurant management; and even starting a new business. Kittock’s Advanced Business PBL spring 2020 class was interested in entrepreneurship and came up with the idea to open a store in the school—Raider Retail. The in-school store is open every Wednesday and is completely run by students.

“It is 100% authentic learning,” Kittock said. “They are running a business.”

Westin Smith, Dean Villeneuve, Tae’Von Wells, and Grant Rychart are some of the students who took part in launching Raider Retail in May 2020. All four of the students shared that they enjoyed doing the project at Culver’s and are excited to return again this year. Villeneuve shared that these experiences have helped him as he thinks of his future plans.

“100% because we get to meet people,” said Villeneuve. “It helps me to expand my view on different career options.”

Wells and Smith echoed these thoughts.

“I plan to weld and eventually become an entrepreneur,” Well stated. “This Pathway has opened a new look at business to better understand future career options.”

“I plan to attend University of Minnesota-Duluth for Sports Management,” Smith shared. “Taking the Business Pathway has led to what I want to pursue in college.”

Greenway senior Summer Holm-Foss jumped into the Business Pathway this year to take the Hire Me Internship class, as well as the Law and Business class. She wanted to take the Law and Business class because she had thoughts of becoming a lawyer when she was younger. However, after taking the class, she has realized that isn’t the path for her.

“I feel like it made me think more about what I like and what I’m good at,” Holm-Foss said.

And even taking the law class showed me what I don’t necessarily want to do. I feel like that’s what the classes are really good for—an opportunity to try it before you jump into college and just decide.”

Holm-Foss will have an internship with Arrowhead Promotion beginning mid-February where she will get to work with a variety of departments within the organization. She has also been the voice of the Raider Review, a radio program that talks about Greenway school highlights on local stations, for the first semester of this school year.

“I feel like it really helped me be more confident in myself and speak better. … I wouldn’t say I want to be a radio person, but it was a great experience,” Holm-Foss shared.

Post-graduation plans for Holm-Foss include attending ICC to earn a two-year business degree and then transfer to Alexandria Community and Technical College for a degree in fashion merchandising. One of the most valuable takeaways Holm-Foss has come from her Hire Me Internship class when they took the Clifton StrengthsFinders test.

“I felt like that was really helpful to find out what skills you’re good at,” said Holm-Foss.

Some of Holm-Foss’s top strengths included Achiever, Learner and Focus.

When asked if she would recommend participating in Career Pathways, she said,  “Yes, I think it’s a good opportunity to see what you do like and what you don’t like.”

In the end, this is what the Career Pathways program is all about for Kittock—giving students the opportunity to experience what a certain career pathway is really like. To peel back the curtains and show what life is like beyond the classroom.

“The best way to teach business is what’s going on in the business world.” She continued, “The students here have skill and passion; and diversity of thought and talent; and it’s super cool to be among them and expose them to ideas.”

Wade Karnes knows all about the benefit of connecting students to the business world. Karnes has been working with Career Pathways since its inception, specifically through the Manufacturing Pathway. Karnes is the owner of Zakobe Metal Stampings, LLC and Cast & Color LLC: Fish Hooks Manufacturer in Bovey, Minn. Karnes is also the president of Arrowhead Manufacturers and Fabricators Association (AMFA).

Karnes and his son Zach Karnes attended original advisory committee meetings for Career Pathways to help get the program rolling. Since then they have been guest speakers, hosted word study students, and have had an internship program. One of the first interns at Zakobe LLC through Career Pathways is now an official employee.

“It was such a neat experience. Basically you are borrowing them and you get to see what type of people they are before you actually bite the bullet and put them on fulltime,” Karnes commented. “Students get to come and see if this is the career for them. It’s not costing them anything. And as a business owner, I find it a win. Not only am I getting people experience in the trades, they are also finding out if that’s what they like.”

Although the business hasn’t been able to have any interns this year, Wade hopes they will be able to bring another one on as soon. He also has hopes to begin an e-commerce website in collaboration with the students in the Business Pathway to sell their Cast & Hook product, split the profits, or potentially establish a scholarship fund.

“It’s kind of my passion—getting kids interested in the trades because right in high school. There weren’t a lot of people pushing for trades when I was in high school,” Wade said.

Wade shared that he has seen the realities of less students going into vocational trade careers through his work with AMFA. All businesses that are a part of AMFA have been struggling to find employees.

“The demand is there, we just need to find the bodies that are interesting and get everybody connected,” Wade said. He continued, “I think it’s just finding that way to connect with the kids and get them interested in it, and get them to realize they can go out to different companies or even different types of jobs, whether it be manufacturing or nursing, and they can find what they like before they’re out of high school and having to pay for it.”

Kittock also realizes the importance of giving students the opportunity to explore different career paths.

“Our young people today, they are the leaders of our future,” Kittock stated. “That’s why I feel privileged to be here to launch our next world and country leaders.”