Opening a new pathway at Monticello High School
Two years ago, sitting in lecture rooms at Monticello High School, leaders from Monticello School District and the Monticello Business Community gathered to discuss a plan that would provide incredible opportunities for both parties.
What the community leaders discussed was growing career and technical education programming opportunities for students in Monticello School District. By creating partnerships between the district and businesses, both parties could help students find real workforce experience to help shape their future pathways, while helping businesses make connections with potential future employees.
The fruits of that discussion are in full force today at Monticello High School.
Since those meetings, ISD 882 has continued to add opportunities both in and out of the classroom for students that are interested in pursuing the CTE pathway. With February serving as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month in Minnesota, Monticello is taking advantage of the month to highlight programming progress across the district and community.
Anne Runck, the Youth Internship and Careers Program Coordinator at MHS, lights up when talking about the increase in these classes and what it means for students in the community. One of the biggest benefits to CTE programming, she noted, is that it can prepare students for a wide variety of pathways, including a technical college, a four-year college, or a transition straight into the workforce.
“Students can explore a variety of interests that they have and they can find out early if it’s something they really like and if they’re good at it,” said Runck.
A portion of the programming, including Runck’s position, is made possible through the Youth Skills Training Program and a two year grant through the Department of Labor. The program focuses on getting students hands-on experience at job sites to build on the skills they are learning in CTE classrooms at the high school. It covers four major career pathways - manufacturing, health care, automotive, Information Technology.
While hands-on opportunities for students have certainly taken a hit with the pandemic, Runck said it’s still been exciting to see the interest from the students and the benefits they get out of the opportunities they have had.
So far, MHS has been able to partner students with a variety of companies, including: Polaris, WSI, Heartland Tire, NAPA, and Aeroteck/Nvent. The district also has partnerships with healthcare organizations that are ready to welcome students once the pandemic subsides.
The program is equally driven by a large number of CTE licensed teachers employed by the district, including Amanda Rodgers, Kari Grawburg, Alyssa Ambrosious, Amy Friedrichs, Corey Derby, Luke Feierabend, Bridgeport Tusler, Amy Luxa, and Jennifer Fox. When they aren’t out in the field getting a hands-on education, students on the CTE pathway are at school receiving a curriculum that bends to match their interests and meet their needs. A wide-variety of fields and topics are covered in classrooms at MHS, including communications technology, industrial technology, business education, and family and consumer sciences. In total, Monticello High School is proud to offer more than 30 CTE classes, in addition to another 12 classes available to students through a partnership with the Wright Technical Center.
By offering an already wide range of classes and hoping to expand opportunities even further moving forward, Superintendent Eric Olson is hopeful this programming will create another way for students to find success during and after their time in Monticello School District.
“We know that we have a student body with an assortment of different skills, passions, and visions of success. With the expansion of our CTE programs, it’s our hope that we can continue to increase the number of students that we can connect directly to the future of their dreams,” said Olson. “I’ve been impressed with the work our instructors have done to bring this programming to life and I’ve been inspired by the student buy-in. It’s pretty awesome to see.”
MHS has been celebrating CTE Month in a variety of ways, including bringing in career speakers, recognizing students, promoting the program to eighth-graders, and highlighting CTE programming in the new MHS Course Catalog.
Meanwhile, the district is always looking for businesses to partner with Monticello schools for: classroom speakers, job shadows and/or informational interviews for juniors in our Careers classes, Job Fair, and Internship opportunities. If interested, please contact Anne Runck, Youth Internship and Careers Program Coordinator, (763) 272-3026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.