Waseca Public Schools’ mission of empowering each learner to thrive in an ever-changing world drives our work each day. But, as inspiring and positive as that statement is, it can often be viewed as an abstract idea that isn’t easily understood.

What does it mean to be ready for an ever-changing world? How is success defined, so that we can indeed help students to thrive after their K-12 experience?

Succinctly put, it means that our job is to prepare students to be thinkers, learners, problem solvers, and perhaps most importantly, graduate with these skills so they have options for life. The definition of success and what it means to thrive is something that is personal to each of us, and as a school district, our role is to prepare students so they can determine that for themselves as they leave us.

Students at the junior/senior high school have the opportunity to engage in a variety of coursework that helps prepare them for looking at their options after high school. High-level AP classes or PSEO courses, along with other core academic learning, opens the door for post-secondary education, which could mean a two-year or a four-year college. Additionally, courses in technical education, engineering, agricultural sciences, education, health sciences, and business could guide students towards their career of choice.

Many of these courses provide skills that students could use to begin employment immediately after leaving high school, often with the opportunity to stay in Waseca. In these cases, the option for students could be to begin their work experience and return for certification or advanced degrees at a later time with the support of their employer or when they are confident in the field they have chosen.

Any of these options are excellent choices for students. And currently, the courses and opportunities available. Where WPS is hoping to continue to grow is in communicating with students about how each pathway can be connected to their goal. For example, if a student is interested in the health science field, what path of courses should they explore in high school that leads them to this option.

Other examples include an interest in manufacturing, technology, or education. Some students may recognize they’d like to attend a four-year college but aren’t sure of their field yet, so they could take some general courses while in high school to lower the cost of those initial credits. In any case, the objective is to help students see a goal after high school and a personalized path to achieving this goal.

Fortunately, a great deal of coursework is in place for us to support students in this way. The next step is to work together with our community partners to learn more about which courses could connect to certain pathways, engage students in real-world internships and experiences, and continue to show students that they have options when they graduate.

The years of junior and senior high school are for students to build the skills, and awareness of the careers available to them, so they are prepared to take advantage of these options. Part of engaging our partners is through a Career and Technical Advisory Committee.

If you have an interest in serving on this committee for our community please contact either me at hude@waseca.k12.mn.us or Clint Link, linc@waseca.k12.mn.us. We look forward to the opportunity to use the already excellent work happening for students and move to the next stages.

Eric Hudspith is the superintendent of Waseca Public Schools.

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