One of the things I most admire about our District is that we have a strong moral compass guiding our work. Together with parents and community partners, we strive to bring out the very best in our kids and open their eyes to their own capacity to achieve extraordinary things. Helping them live up to their promise is the inspiration behind a new initiative we began this fall called the Career Pathways model for students from K to 12 and beyond.
At its heart, Career Pathways is about empowering our kids, in partnership with parents and community, on their journey to a career that brings them dignity and fulfillment in their lives. We believe when students are engaged in what they’re interested in – when they see the relevance in their learning, they can start to shape their hopes and aspirations. We want them to leave school with a clear plan for the workplace or their initial post-secondary destination, whether in apprenticeship training, college or university. Our core work is about making sure they see that completing high school doesn’t represent the end of a journey, but just the beginning of a new one.
One of the most powerful things about this initiative is that it’s designed to support the success of students from Kindergarten through to high school and beyond. We will enhance our students’ awareness of what their strengths are between K-4 and then build their understanding of the actual opportunities out there for them and how they connect to their interests during Grades 5-9.
The high school years are dedicated to students finding a good fit and building their readiness for a particular pathway. There are five Career Pathway clusters, with focuses across different industries like business and information technology, construction, manufacturing, transportation, health, human services, environmental sciences, communication and the arts, which will help students make the right course decisions and ensure they align with their future plans.
We’ve already done some great work with our high schools to look at where they’re currently offering programming within the clusters and where they’d like to offer more. We also held a symposium in October, which brought together the largest ever group of staff, parents, community partners and business and industry leaders to talk about how we can affect real change and build opportunities for students through this model.
Career Pathways is an initiative that holds great personal meaning for me. Several years ago, I worked with an amazing team to implement a similar model at Centre High. We saw the impact it had on our students – opening their eyes to the doors that could be opened through education. Helping them get a head start on their transition to post-secondary studies and the world of work had an incredible impact. Centre High has become a popular choice for young adults in Edmonton thanks to the dedication of staff and evolution of the vision to provide innovative support for our young adults as they transition to post-secondary education and the workforce.
I’m proud to now have the opportunity to put Career Pathways in place throughout our District. Over the next several months, we’ll work to refine key elements of the model and support pilot projects in different schools. This isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon. We want to get this right. I know how much potential this initiative has to support our students’ success in new ways, improve their life-planning skills, our high school completion rates and dropout rates too. I also value the fact that this model will provide us with another way to involve parents in their child’s education. As a parent, you’re a vital part of the team to help students succeed in school and shape their goals for the future. We’ll be focused on making our partnerships with post-secondary institutions and business and industry even stronger as well, so we can explore how best we can offer in-person and online educational opportunities and work experience/co-op programs.
For me, this work is about shaping a journey for our 90,000 students that truly allows them to find what they’re passionate about. Their ambitions provide a window into what our province will look like decades from now. Working together, we can nurture those ambitions and ensure every kid who walks through our doors learns to speak the language of possibility now, and well into the future.