The Clarinda School District is utilizing multiple strategies to provide students with viable options for choosing career paths.
Programs in which the district is currently involved, and plans for additional projects, were reviewed for Clarinda Board of Education directors during their meeting Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Providing information were Interim Superintendent Chris Bergman and Clarinda High School Principal Denise Green.
They stressed that all the efforts underway represented collaborative approaches that encompass local and state “partnerships” with the school district.
The two administrators on Sept. 5 attended a Future Ready Iowa “summit” hosted by Lisle Corporation in Clarinda. Attracting representatives of area businesses and industries, it was one of several such sessions that have taken place at locations around the state since the initiative was launched. Its goal is for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025.
“Our school was the only one there” at the Sept. 5 session, Bergman said. “We made it clear we want to partner with the community.”
Green said the administrators’ attendance at the event helped achieve a “very good connection from the school to the community. Businesses want to help, and they wanted more information on what we could do with them.”
The availability of internships is one promising route for cooperation.
“We have an internship class currently,” Green said. “Kids go out for a couple of periods a day, some to the hospital, some to H&H [Trailers]. Some go to farms because they want to be in the agricultural area, and some go to the elementary school because they want to be elementary teachers. It’s whatever [the student] is interested in.”
Bergman said the district needs to “make sure we are offering things like internships, and that teachers are going out into the businesses to see what it really feels like, and how that applies to their content area.”
Along with internships, the development of apprenticeship arrangements with business offers another avenue for students to pursue career interests.
“Registered apprenticeships are a good way to connect with businesses,” Bergman said. “We can fill out the paperwork together.”
She noted that “when you’re involved with Future Ready Iowa, there are a lot of funds available.”
Bergman, on behalf of the district, has applied for a $25,000 STEM grant, which requires a matching amount that could come from a local partner. Applications can also be made for more grants, she said.
Additional resources that the Clarinda district intends to use include the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning and the Iowa Authentic Learning Network. Assistance also is available from the Green Hills Area Education Agency and Iowa Western Community College.
“Kids now, in order to earn a living wage, need to have some kind of post-secondary education,” Bergman said.
Attending college is one avenue for attaining that education, but not the only one, she noted. Earning a certificate through a job-specific program is a suitable choice as well.
Green said there is more acceptance now of work-based learning programs. “You might get a welding degree and make more than someone who went and got a four-year degree,” she said.
“When you look at the jobs available in this state, they are middle-level jobs,” Bergman said.
She and Green said implementing a curriculum in the district that benefits students in whatever career direction they want to go is the top priority for administrators and teachers.
In other matters at the Sept. 11 meeting, the board approved contracts with Lexy Davies to serve as the home school assistance teacher for the 2019-2020 year.
At present, 23 students are enrolled in Competent Private Instruction (CPI) and 10 are enrolled in Independent Private Instruction (IPI). Students enrolled under CPI submit to the district the curriculum they are taught and are eligible for dual enrollment. Students who complete IPI forms do not have to report any academic progress and are not eligible for any school services.
Of the CPI students, 19 are eligible for dual enrollment, which allows them to attend classes, participate in field trips and school activities, and use the library. These students generate revenue, depending on their grade and the extent in which they participate in classes and activities.
Sixteen of the students are interested in participating in the Home School Assistance (HSA) program, which provides a teacher who oversees their academic work. In exchange, the district receives some funding to pay a certified instructor to deliver such services.
Davies is a certified teacher who previously worked as a special education teacher in the Clarinda district. By working as the HSA teacher, she will receive $15 per hour per student for up to 60 hours per student.
In other business, the board:
Accepted a donation of $1,000 from Clarinda alumnus Stephen Fielder. The money will be allocated to fund a “Take-a-Break” room at the high school. Any unexpended amount will be used to create a similar room in the middle school, if needed.
Approved a memorandum of understanding with the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, regarding a student teacher from that school who is in the Clarinda district for the fall semester.
Approved the first reading of a policy from the Iowa Association of School Boards covering expenditures for public purposes.
Heard brief comments from South Page Superintendent Tim Hood, who said the sharing agreement with the Clarinda district through which some South Page students are attending classes in Clarinda was “going well so far.”
Approved the resignation of Clarinda Middle School paraprofessional Mindy Prather.
Approved hirings of Jeanette Carson as middle school paraprofessional, and Jaime Gaunt and Karina Lininger as Garfield Elementary School paraprofessionals.
Approved the transfer of Risa Graham from a food service position to paraprofessional.