Monday, January 30, 2023

Here’s how Hampton’s high schools are paving a pathway for student success

HAMPTON — High school students in the city are being given the chance to take their learning beyond just the usual high school diploma.

The career pathways program, Academies of Hampton, started with just five programs, one in each school.

Now in just three short years, the program will grow from five to 16 academies, fulfilling the economic needs of the community, said Donna Woods, executive director of School Leaders in Hampton.

The History

Starting just three years ago, the Hampton School Board officially entered into a partnership with Ford Next Generation to create career academies in the public high schools, Woods said.

Each high school had a focus and the students were able to enroll in a pocket program of their choice.

It answers the “why does this matter?” question that a lot of students will ask during a class, Woods said.

Starting with the freshman class of 2021, each student will enroll in a success 101 course where they can chart their next 10 years and discover what kind of lifestyle they want to live.

Woods said this would help students pick which pathway they wanted.

The students have the option to switch at least once before their sophomore year.

After that it will become hard to finish the two-year program that makes them a pathway completer, she said.

Pathways and certifications

Each high school has a different pathway program that meets the needs of the region.

Here are a few examples of what a student can enroll in:

Another feature of these academies is the target certifications students can get while still in school.

Woods said students can get their certifications in CPR, First Aid, complete an associates degree from Thomas Nelson Community College while they graduate with a high school diploma, become a certified 911 Dispatcher and so much more.

Some of those certifications let the students work high-paying jobs right out of the high school while others give them the options to pursue higher education at a faster rate.

Following the money

The programs are funded directly out of the school system with no cost to the students.

The Ford Next Generation partnership that Hampton City Schools are engaged in makes the school system the first in Virginia to have the programs.

Woods said the partnership has enabled them to work closely with other schools on a national level where Hampton can learn and benefit from the other programs across the country.

“We stand on their shoulders,” she said.

To learn about Academies of Hampton click here.

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