Via Grand Rapids Herald Review
Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (IASC) Career Pathways initiative has been awarded $500,000 from the Blandin Foundation to grow additional pathways in natural resources and agriculture, education, business, and skilled trades. The funding will also support expansion of the current Manufacturing and Healthcare Pathways from Grand Rapids (ISD 318), Greenway (ISD 316), and Nashwauk-Keewatin (ISD 319) districts to the remaining districts in IASC.
“Career Pathways is a unique model that allows high school students to prepare for post-secondary opportunities in both college and in the workforce,” said Grand Rapids High School (GRHS) Principal Mark Schroeder. Classes for the Manufacturing Pathway are held in the GRHS Tech Wing.
The Manufacturing Pathway offers students the opportunity to take manufacturing courses that are prerequisites for many post-secondary programs and are preparatory courses for a future career in the industry. Though housed in GRHS, students from other districts can take these courses via TelePresence. Students from Itasca Community College (ICC) also utilize the manufacturing skid housed at GRHS to gain hands-on experience in Process Operations.
The Healthcare Pathway is housed in Greenway and also offered to students via TelePresence. “Based on research done by the Blandin Foundation, we know that Itasca County is expected to experience growth in the healthcare field,” said Career Pathways Coordinator Claire Peterlin. “From 2000 to 2016, there was a 51% growth in healthcare occupations. And now, 20% of all jobs in Itasca County are in the healthcare field.”
“By offering these career pathways to youth in our area, IASC will become the student-centered workforce development movement of the region and a connection point for the whole community to use in addressing workforce and economic challenges,” said Peterlin.
IASC Career Pathways start at the 7-9th grade level with career exploration and planning activities that provide time for students to explore their interests and apply them to potential careers. The exploration classes often help students see the variety of opportunities available in each field. One introductory instructor shared that a student who was unsure which career field they would enter decided to partake in the course to gain a better understanding of healthcare. The student knew that she did not want to work with blood and had nearly ruled out a career in healthcare because of this characteristic. After completing the Introduction to Health Careers, she realized that not all healthcare career choices required the handling of blood and that she would be willing to look into healthcare career options as a possibility for her future.
At the 10-12th grade level, students are able to select a pathway that interests them. “It is more than classroom experience for our kids,” said Schroeder. “Students are able to connect to professionals in the field and this spring will intern with partner businesses. This is in addition to gaining foundational skills and experiences that prepare them for work in that career field.”
“Now, with the support of the Blandin Foundation grant and IASC partner districts, we will build 21st Century Career Pathway programming that allows all students expanded access to collaborative, diverse, and innovative opportunities in and outside of their home district. These experiences will develop their skills and identities as future professionals and leaders,” said Peterlin.
For more information about Career Pathways opportunities, including how your business can partner with the program, contact Career Pathways Coordinator Claire Peterlin at email@example.com or visit www.isd318.org/page/3173. For information about registering your Greenway, GRHS, or N-K student, contact your child’s counseling office.