By Julia Burns - Co-founder, Pathways High
Unique curriculum at Pathways High addresses local challenges
Inspired by their work with students in Destination Imagination and the documentary, "Most Likely To Succeed," Amber Regan and I created Pathways High, a personalized, project-based high school opening in downtown Milwaukee in August 2017. Diverse by design, Pathways High has enrolled approximately 100 students from varied socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds from both city and suburban neighborhoods. The goal: to graduate more students fluent in academic, technological and interpersonal skills.
Broad exposure to careers
Through extensive research, Burns and Regan saw the need to provide high school students with broad exposure to career options and 21st century skills required for success in college, career and life. Also, best practices at schools across Wisconsin and the country revealed the importance of providing industry certifications as early as possible so students can demonstrate mastery. Re-purposing the STEM acronym as Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship and Mastery as coined by the highly successful STEM School in Denver, a partner of Pathways High, echoes Pathways High's mission.
Mastery of academic and technical content and skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, communication and problem solving, is accomplished through student engagement in projects that are co-designed by businesses and teachers and create connections to the community via their IMPACT program. Connections and networks can dramatically alter the trajectory of a young person’s life, especially a young person who lives in a disadvantaged zip code.
The goal of IMPACT is to expose students to careers and mentors in 12 industry clusters including:
Optional fifth year
IMPACT takes the form of classes, week-long inter-sessions at a partner’s location and an optional fifth/gap year. The IMPACT year will be personalized for each student, blending internship/apprenticeship and dual enrollment in college courses.
This hybrid model provides a student with a deep understanding of both the workplace and academic requirements of a career pathway before s/he graduates and enrolls in a postsecondary program. The result is less costly experimentation in college and lower college debt burdens.
If you are interested in learning more about the IMPACT program and becoming an IMPACT partner, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org