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IASC Next Career Pathways excites middle school students for future electives

On Friday, Feb. 2, fifteen students representing Grand Rapids, Greenway and Nashwauk-Keewatin High Schools, signed training agreements with local manufacturing businesses and prepared to begin their career pathway internship experience.

IASC Next Career Pathways excites middle school students for future electives

Herald Review Jan. 6, 2024

On Thursday and Friday, Jan. 4-5, 2024, IASC Next held their 8th Grade Introduction to Career Pathways Day(s) at the MN North College- Itasca Campus.

On Thursday and Friday, Jan. 4-5, 2024, IASC Next held their 8th Grade Introduction to Career Pathways Day(s) at the MN North College- Itasca Campus. IASC, Itasca Area Schools Collaborative was formed in 2005 to bring new focus to a partnership of area school districts seeking increased educational opportunities for students. IASCA Members include: Deer River, Floodwood, Grand Rapids, Greenway, Hill City, Nashwauk-Keewatin, Northland Community Schools, and MN North College.

NEXT Career Pathways was created to allow all students to explore career options “to inspire hope and curiosity, provide relevant experiences and intentional opportunities to students that will allow them to imagine a future vision of themselves, and give hands-on learning partnered with colleges and industries so students can excel in their futures and unleash endless possibilities.” This was found in their mission statement on their website.

There are Seven Pathways that NEXT includes: Business, Computer Science, Construction, Education, Healthcare Career, Manufacturing Career, and Natural Resources and Agriculture.

The event held in early January brought 8th graders to the college campus to explore these pathways. The sessions were broken up into twenty minute sessions held by teachers and leaders in the fields to explain the career pathway. The sessions included a hands-on activity that enabled the students to experience the pathways firsthand.

While NEXT usually is involved in the high school realm, the purpose behind bringing in 8th graders was to prepare the students before signing up for electives when they move onto high school and are offered a larger variety of classes.

300 students from Grand Rapids came to the event on Thursday, 150 per morning and afternoon session, with 150 more students in attendance on Friday from Deer River and Greenway in the morning session. Scott Patrow, the Director of IASC Next Career Pathways said that they will have hosted just over 600 kids in the two days of the event. His hope is that the students will select their high school courses based on their interests and in order to do that, they need to explore and find out what they are and are not interested in.

Patrow was excited about the opportunity for the kids and glad to enable them to think more about their futures. He said, “I was at a conference in Boston this fall and a really revealing statement I heard was that we’re not asking kids what they want to be– instead it’s how do you want to live? What do you need occupationally to support that?” Next works to help show students what opportunities are available for their careers, and specifically that there are plenty of opportunities in Minnesota that will support a great way to live.

The students indeed seemed to be having fun throughout their various sessions as they handled healthcare equipment and learned how to take blood pressure pulses and do CPR, wired up a light circuit, spoke with a DNR pupil about natural resources, played with a code system connected to oranges and bananas, played competitive logo-matching business games, and more.

While learning these pathways the students were able to experience hands-on activities that stimulated their brains and hopefully, will encourage them to learn more about themselves and their interests so that when they sign up for their high school courses they are excited for their future time in classrooms at school and beyond into the workforce.

Thank you to the Grand Rapids Herald Review for the article!

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