Monfredo: Worcester Public Schools Kick Off “Innovation Pathways” Project

Saturday, October 27, 2018
John Monfredo, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTERâ„¢

The Worcester Public Schools continues to be a leader across the state in providing innovative approaches to education. This week the district celebrated the opening of their new program entitled, “Innovation Pathways …Empowering students with a career vision and the skills to pursue it with confidence.” This program was developed to help expand career field exploration through technical education within the Worcester Public Schools.  It will also partner up with businesses to develop programs that will meet the needs and interest of students as well as future labor market demands.

The program received high praise from Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser at the Worcester Technical High School ribbon-cutting ceremony.  He complimented the district for its leadership in education and for its collaborated spirit in bringing community partners to the table and stated that it doesn’t happen everywhere.  Other speakers included Superintendent Maureen Binienda, project coordinator and host Drew Weymouth,  Susan Mailman of Coghlin Electric, student representatives Chizaram Asia from Burncoat High, and Aiden West from Doherty High.

Superintendent Maureen Binienda stated, “We are particularly focused on ensuring our students are college and career ready.  In order to accomplish this, we needed to improve student access to rigorous and relevant classes and enhance the career planning our students go through.”   She thanked the many partners in the project and spoke about Worcester leading the way across the state in being an innovator in education.

The program will utilize Worcester Technical High School beyond regular school hours to increase access to students.  Students from Burncoat High School and Doherty High, both sophomores and juniors, have been invited to participate in this year’s program and next year the plan is to open the program to all schools. The students are involved in two 15 week course and the hours are from 2:30 to 5:30.  Transportation is available to the high school with WRTA passes or guardian pickup available for the trip home.  The Technical skills courses count as credit toward graduation and the beauty of the courses is that the students are guided into appropriate college-level classes while in high school.  Come the first of the year, 9th and 10th graders will be given the opportunity to sign up for next year’s program with an additional pathway added.

The start of the “Innovation Pathways” program is off to a great start according to Drew Weymouth, Innovation Pathways Director.  As of this week, the students are taking their college and career readiness class at the home high school with the technical career pathway starting on November 6th at Worcester Technical High School.

Mr. Waymouth stated that the program for 2018-19 will give students coursework and experience in specific high demand industries, such as information technology, engineering, healthcare, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing.  The main reason for these four programs is because the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has identified these areas as high demand sites based on state employment data as well as for future Central Massachusetts employment.  Thus, these programs will make students more competitive in these fields and provide students with a career pathway.  Worcester Public Schools has worked with many organizations and businesses to develop a program that meets the needs and interests of students as well as future labor market demands.

Students participating in the program will experience an in-depth look at a career field of their interest, work towards industry-recognized credentials in that area, engage in college and career planning activities, take two college-level classes for post-secondary preparation, and gain experience through a summer internship or a capstone project.  Depending on availability the students will be participating in 100 hours paid internship during the summer months.

Mr. Weymouth envisions a strong partnership with employers in order to expose students to career options and to help them develop knowledge and skills related to their chosen field of study before they graduate from high school.

 Partners in the program include:

  • MassHire Central Region Workforce Board
  • One8 Foundation
  • Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and  a number of Business Partners
  • One 8 Foundation
  • Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College

 

In addition, Superintendent Binienda stated, “I am excited to share with the public that we have continued to introduce more college dual-enrollment classes for students in high schools across our district.  This will allow students to both garner college credit while still in high school and help ensure they are ready for their transition to a full-time college schedule upon graduating from high school.”

The innovation project is off to a great start and in the spring time we’ll gather more information on this creative project and give you an updated report.

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