Tennessee was among the first states to be invited to join this national initiative focused on ensuring more students complete high school and attain postsecondary credentials and skills with value in the labor market. These pathways have multiple entry and exit points in the educational process, transition seamlessly from high school to postsecondary institutions and support active industry involvement in student learning. Pathways Tennessee is a statewide initiative sustained through regional leadership and supported within multiple state agencies. Learn more at the Pathways Tennessee web site.
PATHWAYS SOUTHEAST TENNESSEE
The local Pathways work is currently underway in Bradley, Hamilton, Marion and McMinn counties with focus on the Advanced Manufacturing and Information Technology industries. In August 2014, schools around the region launched their career pathways aligning to the skills sets and certification needs of these two critical labor markets. In the coming years, the Southeast Tennessee Pathways to Prosperity Initiative will continue to expand throughout the region and establish additional career pathways for our students.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In 2011, the Harvard Graduate School of Education issued the Pathways to Prosperity report, highlighting a “skills gap” preventing many young adults from qualifying for work in our country’s critical labor markets. The national response to this report and ensuing discussion among education and business leaders led to the establishment of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration between Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity Project, Jobs for the Future (JFF), and a growing consortium of states across the nation. The goal is to support young people in entering an initial career while leaving open the prospect of further education. Learn more at Jobs for the Future.
Provide students in Southeast Tennessee in grades 7-14/15 access to rigorous academic/career pathways interlinked with local, regional and state economic/labor market needs and trends in order to develop and promote a workforce that is educated and skilled in their chosen fields.
Advance transitions in education and career through high school, post-high school, and industry collaborations that seamlessly allow students the opportunity to pursue a post-high school credential with value in the regional/state labor market.
Mayor Jim Coppinger (Co-Chair)
Hamilton County Schools
Dr. Steven Angle
University of Tennessee Chattanooga
Dr. Jim Barrott
Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Chattanooga
McMinn County Schools
Dr. Linda Cash
Bradley County Schools
Mayor Gary Davis
Bradley County Government
Dr. Russell Dyer
Cleveland City Schools
McMinn County Schools
SE Center of Regional Excellence
Dr. Mark Griffith
Marion County Schools
Mayor David Jackson
Marion County Government
Dr. Kirk Kelly
Hamilton County Schools
SE TN Development District
Mayor Tom Rowland
Cleveland City Government
Dr. William Seymour
Cleveland State Community College
Sergio Hernandez is one motivated student at McMinn County High School. His reason? Family. As a senior in the mechatronics pathway, Sergio recognizes the sacrifices his parents have made to put him and his four other siblings first. He is grateful for his father’s encouragement to pursue a technical degree, saying, “I now understand why my dad was always trying to teach me how to fix an engine … it’s a skill that translates into so many other areas relating to well-paying jobs.” Throughout his time as a Pathways student, Sergio has taken full advantage of industry field trips, job shadows, career awareness opportunities and earning dual college credits through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) at Athens. “I won’t have much left to do at TCAT once I graduate high school, and my parents won’t have to worry about how to pay for my college.”
Completing his third year as an apprentice at E & E Manufacturing, Sergio describes his experience there as a game changer. “The opportunities to grow with the company are unending. I hope to keep a good relationship with them upon graduation to continue working there. I want to stay local, the pay is great, and I am already trained!”
Chris Nichols Growing up on a small farm in Kentucky can be tough at times, as was the case for Chris Nichols and his family. When he and his mom moved to Chattanooga to start a new life, Chris used his life experiences as a motivator to stay focused in school, and to find a career pathway that suited his interests and offered a good living wage.
The Mechatronics pathway had just started at Tyner Academy in 2014 when Chris came around, and instructor Bryan Robinson encouraged him to take the class. Now as a senior, Chris says, “(mechatronics) has opened my eyes to different things I want to do – branching off into my Work Based Learning experience at Gestamp has changed my entire view of manufacturing. I’ve never looked at engineering as a business before – watching and learning from my supervisor, Mr. Webb, taught me what engineers have to think through to accomplish the overall goals of a company. When I finish school, I want to do exactly what I’ve been doing at Gestamp, and that is helping to design, improve and work with large machines.”
Industries like Gestamp have donated numerous pieces of equipment to Tyner Academy and several other schools in the region. In Chris’ words, “the opportunities students have by enrolling in the Mechatronics pathway are endless, because this is a field that is always growing!”
The Pathways team is committed to helping students find the right career pathway! Nestled under the Career and Technical Education Department, Pathway Career Coaches and Liaisons assist students with identifying their interests and abilities, and how they align with career pathways. They maintain industry relationships in the community so students and teachers can see classroom instruction brought to life in a real work environment through field trips, jobs shadows, internships, and so much more.
Contact your Pathways team member according to your school district to get started on your Pathway today!
Annie White is the Regional Program Manager for Pathways Southeast Tennessee, who cultivates relationships within the regional business and education community, as well as the TN Department of Education to support the development and implementation of career pathways. She is passionate about preparing students for future careers with unlimited opportunities!