Next week, St. Paul Public Schools will launch a new career center on the campus of St. Paul College where district high school students may enroll in classes in in-demand subjects, get industry certifications, and apply for internships.
On the southwest part of the campus, the outdated and mostly vacant College Learning Center will be replaced with the new Career Pathways Center.
With 150 students and 16 courses—three of which will be housed on the main college campus and one at St. Catherine University—the career center will debut on Tuesday.
This September, the district will implement block scheduling for all high schools, allowing students from various schools to attend the vocational center together. That will provide the district with enough pupils, according to superintendent Joe Gothard, to provide more career-related courses.
We anticipate success, he continued.
With specialized counselors in the high schools and new software that allows children as young as preschool to build customized learning plans, the district has prioritized career exploration during the course of Gothard’s five years there. The center is the next step.
In some school systems, kids spend their whole school day in separate career academies. Gothard advocated a system in which kids are still connected to their home schools, where they may take part in extracurricular activities.
He said, “I believe high school identity is crucial.
Juniors and seniors will attend their local high schools for the morning sessions and lunch, then board buses to the career center for the afternoon sessions. Every high school will continue to provide its own courses with a career emphasis.
As a part of their $50 million racial equality and social justice project launched in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd, 3M is funding the center with a grant of $5 million over five years.
Human services, science and medicine, business and communications, and new and emerging technologies are the four broad categories in which courses are being provided.
During a Wednesday ribbon-cutting ceremony, Michael Stroik, the company’s vice president of community relations, said, “These are areas for us at 3M that are really significant, particularly when we think about what the future of work will look like.”
Zhara Christopher, a senior in Highland Park, is enrolled in beginning engineering and health care programs this year since the district cut the number of credits required to graduate. She was pleased to see the district place a strong emphasis on racial diversity at the job center since she had studied International Baccalaureate classes where the majority of her classmates were white.
She described Highland’s IB curriculum as being “particularly targeted to one certain set of individuals.” “Everyone can use the Career Pathway Center.”
Everlyn Balvoa, a Highland senior, had little interest in the agriculture-focused vocational classes offered at her native high school.
It’s a little retro, she remarked.
She intends to begin the Certified Nursing Assistant program offered on the St. Kate’s college’s campus next week via the new vocational center.
Angel Ponce, a senior at Highland who enjoys building computers in his spare time, is enrolled in basic engineering and computer hardware classes. He’s eager to connect with others at the job center who share his interests.
He also anticipates that the classes at the center will go deeper into the subject matter, calling the careers courses at conventional high schools “very rudimentary.”
According to Gothard, the courses will be broad enough to be applicable to a number of college and job pathways.
College is a possibility for certain kids. Others will graduate from high school and enter the workforce, maybe with a design or construction-related professional certification.
The courses will be taught in plain classrooms within the vocational center without specialist equipment, with the exception of the nursing programs at St. Kate’s and carpentry and a few others at St. Paul College.
Many vocational academies abroad are “shiny,” according to Miriam Shuros, program manager of the Career Pathways Center, and have outstanding facilities.
She said that the equipment was no longer functional after two years and that funding was simply unavailable.