If you were to ask a student what they wanted to do after high school the likely answer would be “I don’t know yet.” Salem High School is shifting focus to career pathways in hopes of changing that common answer.
Jennifer Martin, the junior and senior counselor at the high school, said, “planning career pathways in high school is important because it gets students more focused on what they want to do.”
SHS Principal Tory Albert gave a presentation at the school board meeting last week highlighting all the ways the school is improving in helping students to graduate with a firm foundation in whatever career they choose.
This year, for the first time, the class Preparing for College and Career (PCC) was taught at the middle school for high school credit. Students learned about and explored a variety of careers and colleges, technical schools, apprenticeships, etc. Albert is hoping that offering this class at the middle school level will help students be able to choose a pathway more quickly in high school and it also gives them credit towards graduation.
Once students enter high school, they can choose a graduation path. One option students can utilize is dual credit classes. There are 23 different dual credit classes to choose from at SHS. Martin said, “it can save students a year or two in college. Because it is mostly free, students also save money. [Vincennes is the only dual credit program that costs.] It could also allow students to double major or study abroad without having to make up classes in summer school.”
The process of teachers becoming certified to teach dual credit classes is changing. Martin said, “They must have a graduate degree with 18 credit hours in the specific subject they are teaching.”
Another option for students is vocational classes. SHS has 13 courses to select from. Martin said these include agriculture, business, manufacturing and computer classes.
Prosser is popular among graduating students as well. Martin said, “Students applying to Prosser send in an application during February of their sophomore year. In the application they must fill out information about themselves, but they also must have a teacher recommendation.”
The Course Selection Guide for the 2023-2024 school year has little change. Some course names have been changed, these include intro to business, intro to communication and intro to advanced manufacturing.
To graduate, students must have a diploma and 40 to 47 credits. Martin added that the most popular diplomas are academic honors and technical honors. Dual credit and Prosser are both common for students to use in achieving all the aspects of their diploma. To graduate students must also have employability skills and postsecondary readiness.
Martin said she hopes the shift in focus to career pathways will “help students find what they want to do or what they are interested in. If they do not know what they want to do, they struggle to find the relevance in their work. But if they see the connection, anything is possible.”