Education leaders from the Hendrick Hudson Central School District, with guidance from the National Center for College and Career Transitions (NC3T), are working with business and other community partners to consider how local high schools can help every student make a clear connection to college and career opportunities.
College-career pathways, which combine rigorous academics with hands-on applications to the world of work, most often in areas tied to the local economy, have been successful in many other communities, increasing student engagement, increasing graduation rates, and boosting the number of students who go on to some type of postsecondary education and training. The Academy system in Nashville, Tenn., for example, has seen graduation rates grow from 68 to 83 percent in just a few years, with other communities reporting similarly impressive results.
In early April a group of administrators from Hendrick Hudson traveled to Nashville for an Academies of Nashville Study Visit. The grant-funded trip (made at no cost to taxpayers) included visits to two high schools, presentations by teachers and district officials, workshops, speakers from the business community, and interactive sessions with about 200 representatives of school districts from all over the U.S, as well as Canada and the U.K.
Nashville is recognized as a leader in academy-style education, a model to which Hendrick Hudson also aspires. In the academy model, students have the opportunity to choose a pathway for study that will yield a relatively seamless transition from secondary to postsecondary education, training, and careers. Hen Hud’s Project Lead the Way program, in which students study healthcare-related subjects in preparation for future careers in healthcare or engineering, is a working example.
Joining Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter in Nashville were High School Principal, James Mackin; High School Assistant Principal Dan Callahan; Middle School Principal, John Owens; and Resource Development Liaison, Beth Gruber. In addition to a full roster of educational opportunities, the group heard from a number of accomplished speakers, most notably Roberto J. Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education in the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Here in New York, the District is working with the New York Pathways Innovation Network (NY-PIN) on three potential objectives: Community Integration – in which the school and the community develop what’s called a “shared vision for youth” and actively engage with one another; Middle School Exploration – in which career choices are investigated and what’s called “financial and enterprise literacy” is taught; and Career-College Pathways in high school, with support from teachers, counselors, and potential employers, and opportunities to earn post-secondary credits while still in high school. The overarching goal is for graduates to be ready for career, college, and civic life.
This work will culminate in a five-year plan outlining how such a system, unique to the local community, can be put into place. With its many community and corporate connections, Hendrick Hudson is already well-positioned to offer students the opportunity to incorporate “real-life” learning situations into their high school studies.