Thursday, 29 March 2018 18:46

Career-Focused Programs Offer MN High School Students Several Options

Written by Erin Hinrichs, MinnPost
A student practices welding in an auto body class at Burnsville High School. A student practices welding in an auto body class at Burnsville High School. MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs


He also noted that Shakopee is ideally located near some major employers, such as Shutterfly, Amazon, St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Mystic Lake, Canterbury Park and Valleyfair. This proximity has allowed them to create “pipelines to connect teachers and businesses” so that students are being equipped with real-world job skills, Pawlicki explained.


The same level of partnership and intentionality exists within the Burnsville model. For instance, Funston said they have been working with the local fire department to develop an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) pipeline. Beginning in the fall, they’ll launch an EMT class that’s already got a full student roster. It’ll be co-caught by a teacher and a fire captain.


At least one significant distinction exists between the Shakopee and Burnsville models. Pawlicki described the Shakopee model as an effort to create a number of smaller high schools within the newly expanded high school, so that students don’t feel lost in the crowd.


“In the academy model, [we] can create smaller learning communities---students with similar interests, with a higher likelihood of getting teachers who you’re going to know,” Pawlicki said.


Burnsville educators are taking a different approach. Rather than putting students in specialized cohorts based on career interests, they are trying to keep the focus on building a single school-wide sense of community as students purse their various career interests.


Funston said they want to avoid isolating students in any particular career pathway, especially those that are traditionally dominated by a particular gender or race. With this in mind, they have ensured that all course options are housed within the high school campus and that students are being exposed to options they may not have otherwise considered. For instance, the school’s fabrication lab---which is equipped with 3D printers and the like---is situated next the student commons area, separated by an entire wall of glass.


“What we’re really trying to do is make sure our students---our females and our students of color---can look through that glass, see what they’re doing and say, ‘That’s cool. I want to do that too,’ ” Funston said. “It’s a way to, inadvertently, get some of the interest and really change some of the paradigms.”


We thank MinnPost for reprint permission. 

« Previous Page Continue reading

Read 3221 times