Akron students will have more than 50 pathways to explore during high school education

From cosmetology and dance to fire science and animal studies, Akron Public School students are in store for a wide array of options to help them focus their education.

A design committee presented the Akron School Board with a finalized list of pathways students can take at the College and Career Academies during a regular board meeting Monday.

The board meeting was held at Firestone High School instead of its normal location in the administration building on Broadway Street as a way to get out into the community, said Patrick Bravo, the board president.

During the meeting, Ellen McWilliams-Woods, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Akron Public Schools, presented the board with the pathways and the process the design committee went through to develop them. Rachel Tecca, the director of college and career academies, and Annie Hanson, the director of community relations and engagement at University of Akron, presented with McWilliams-Woods.

The three laid out the research process, from analyzing enrollment and student interest data to getting all stakeholders involved in multiple meetings to help create the list of pathways.

Hanson said the committee focused on pathways that had both high job demand and high-paying wages in the 10-year outlook byConxusNEO, a nonprofit that aims to make workers have the skills employers are seeking. They identified five categories: arts, media and communication; public service; business marketing and IT; engineering, manufacturing and skilled trade; and health care.

In the end, the committee came up with more than 50 pathways that students can choose from among seven different schools.

Every high school in the district will begin implementing the College and Career Academy model in 2019. Students who are in eighth grade now will spend ninth grade deciding on a pathway, and once they hit 10th grade, they’ll embark down the path they choose.

It’s not as permanent as it sounds, though. Kids will have one chance to switch their path in the three years that they’re in the College and Career Academy.

McWilliams-Woods said the goal of the academies is to prepare students to be employed, enlisted in the military or enrolled in college by the time they graduate high school.

“A lot of work has gone into organizing this, planning this, and it all fits nicely into a wonderful puzzle that works to complement everything else that we’re doing in Akron Public Schools” said the Rev. Curtis Walker, a board member, adding that the academies will help create a “broad, healthy student that could go out into the community and compete.”

Board member Lisa Mansfield added that the academies could even prepare students to do a combination of enlisting, enrolling or getting employed at the same time.

“I think that’s an excellent thing that we’ve worked in here as well,” Mansfield said. “It’s just a really important piece for these students.”

An informative meeting will be held Oct. 25 at Quaker Station to inform eighth-graders about their new options for education.

In other news:

• Superintendent David James gave a presentation about what comes next for the district now that building consolidations in the Imagine Akron Schools building project are complete. His goals include leveling enrollment so schools are filled to adequate capacity, consolidating the district’s two administration buildings into one and continuing to look for places where the district can save money.

• District Treasurer Ryan Pendleton addressed the state of the district’s general fund for fiscal year 2018, pointing out that federal and state grants have declined more than 40 percent since 2011.

• Richard Lewis, the executive director of the Ohio School Boards Association, presented board member Debbie Walsh with a surprise plaque to honor her for her service on the OSBA Board of Trustees. Lewis praised the entire board as well.

“I’m overwhelmed. I owe it to the rest of the school board, because they do make my life a lot easier,” Walsh said.

Read original article here.

Cottom, Theresa. (2017, September 25).  Akron Students Will Have More Than 50 Pathways to Explore During High School Education. Stratford Social Innovation Review.  Retrieved from