Soon high schools will be required to help students plan their education based on career interests, and Barton Community College can help with that, college administrators told the BCC Board of Trustees on Thursday.
Jane Howard, Barton’s executive director of business, technology and community education, talked about the concept of career pathways, also known as career clusters, that can lead students to their chosen vocation. It’s an attempt to align education with future employment.
"The concept itself has been around for a long time," Howard said, "but it wasn’t mandated." In the future, schools will be required to initiate career pathways or risk losing financial aid for vocational education.
Career pathways starts by breaking career choices into six fields and 16 career clusters, which contain more than 600 specific careers.
"The majority of students are not going to pursue a four-year degree," she said. But as early as grade school, teachers should begin to instill an awareness of career choices. At the middle school level students should start career exploration. They should learn, for example, that a career in health care includes many more options than just doctor or nurse.
In high school, the students should have career exploration with application. That may mean an internship, or taking a vocational class while picking up some college credits.
One version of this program has schools creating an individual, six-year plan for students, that starts with their eighth-grade year and continues through high school and their first year of post-secondary education. It will map out the classes students need to take each year to be successful. "There will have to be some flexibility," Howard added, noting young people may change career plans.
Since smaller schools can’t continue to offer a wide array of vocational classes, and even larger schools such as Great Bend High School have found it advantageous to use BCC resources such as the auto technology class, Barton could help the school districts save money, said Leonard Bunselmeyer, the college’s executive director of health care and public safety education.
College trustees were supportive of the concept overall, seeing its potential for adults who return to college or work on a General Education Diploma.
"It will make education relevant," trustee Robert Feldt said. As Great Bend’s Municipal Court judge for many years, Feldt said he saw plenty of dropouts who thought education was a waste of time. "Hopefully, this kind of program will motivate students to stay in school, because they can see a goal."
In action items Thursday, the trustees approved the following personnel:
- Christopher Stott – Academic Adviser (Student Support Services) (Barton County Campus)
- Toni Leedy – Customer Service Representative (Ft. Riley Campus)
- Chad Shook – Security Officer (Barton County)
- Jennipher Easterling – Customer Service Representative (Ft. Riley)
- Tyler Crutcher – Mechanical Systems Technician (Barton County)
- Shawnee Cross – Custodian I (Barton County)
- Chantelle Brown – Customer Service Representative (Barton County)
- Denise Schreiber – Administrative Assistant (WTCE) (Barton County).
Trustees also met in a closed executive session for one hour, to discuss non-elected personnel. Dr. Heilman and the board’s attorney, Randy Henry, were also present. No action was taken.