Westerville News & Public Opinion

Career pathways program is on fast track

The Pathways to Prosperity program is being funded by a $14.4 million state grant

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The Westerville City School District is progressing on plans to develop new career pathways for students.

Scott Reeves, the district's executive director of secondary academic affairs, presented an update to the school board Monday, March 10, about the progress in developing and implementing the Pathways to Prosperity Program.

Earlier this year, Westerville schools, along with 11 other districts, received a grant of $14.4 million from the Ohio Department of Education's Straight A Fund to implement the program, which is intended to combine high school courses with career, college and work and technical experience for students.

"Our next step was to determine how to achieve those goals," Reeves said. "We're really providing an economical need for our region and a marketable need for our students."

As part of the program, the district will be offering post-secondary health science courses through Westerville Central High School, business logistics at Westerville South High School and advanced manufacturing at Westerville North High School. All three schools will have college prep and technology courses.

Utilizing open enrollment or allowing students to remain at their home high school and go another school for classes remain options, Reeves said.

At the middle-school level, students will have a technical writing course in sixth grade, a course in advanced manufacturing in seventh grade and a health sciences course in eighth grade. The middle-school level, Reeves said, is intended to give broader introduction.

"We want our students exposed to the variety of choices they have," Reeves said. "All of those pathways and experiences, so when our students graduate high school, they don't just have a diploma, they have a plan."

The district aims to have the program in place for next school year.

"We're trying to do in a couple of months what probably should be done in a couple of years," Reeves said. "Logistically, we're juggling a lot of balls."

Board member Rick Vilardo said he likes the emphasis on partnerships and students' passions.

"However we can strengthen a student's particular leading, I think that's awesome," he said. "I love when we try to provide for children a pathway to which they are passionate."

Board President Nancy Nestor-Baker said the effort increases options for students without sacrificing other programs.

"It's exciting to consider because we are opening doors and windows that have been painted shut a long time," she said. "We are moving forward, and there are some really exciting opportunities coming for our children."

In other news from the Westerville Board of Education meeting:

• Scott Gaddis, formerly a math teacher at Grove City High School, was hired as assistant principal of Westerville North, effective with the 2014-15 school year. He will replace the retiring Lea Coburn. His annual salary will be $78,500.

• The board presented a resolution of commendation to Westerville North High School swimmer Mason Miller and Coach Jeff Riegler. In 2013, Miller won the 50-yard freestyle and placed second in the 100 free at the Division 1 State Swimming and Diving Meet. In 2014, he became Central District Champion in the 100 free and 100 butterfly and competed at the 2014 State Meet in February in Canton, where he won the 100-yard butterfly and finished third in the 100-yard freestyle.

• The board also recognized Westerville North senior Layla Barnes with a certificate of commendation for being named a 2014 Outstanding Young Woman in Central Ohio by the Zonta Club of Columbus.

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