By Jennifer Telecky, HHS Principal
For 9th, 10th and 11th graders at Hutchinson High School, February is a time to start looking at registering for classes for the next school year. This is also a time for 8th graders at Hutchinson Middle School to begin learning about the high school and TigerPath. All 8th grade students create a 4-year plan. This can seem overwhelming to students…and maybe parents too, but this first 4-year plan is only a starting point. Led by HHS counselors, the students take interest inventories to help lead them to a pathway, but this is only a place to start. Interests change and so do student pathways. The good news is that since the official start of TigerPath in 2014, each year our level of commitment and programming grows to ensure our students have more opportunities to discover talents, interests and ultimately their own best path for education and future careers.
Students will notice opportunities to explore from the very start of high school through elective courses and their careers course. While taking a careers class at the freshman level is common in Minnesota high schools, we do things a little differently at HHS. First, students have an opportunity to opt into a careers class that has a focus on their chosen career path or interest area. Sometimes it is in this class when they explore different jobs and they realize they are in the wrong TigerPath. For others it confirms their original plan. Another component of our careers class is our mentoring program. During the trimester, students are partnered up with mentors. These mentors are local community members who volunteer their time to work with and mentor HHS students. Students meet with mentors 2-3 times during the trimester. In the past year, 110 community mentors have mentored 356 students. Our students and mentors say that overall it is a positive and valuable experience.
Opportunities and Experiences
The careers class is one of the first year opportunities to explore pathways and as students go through their 4 years at HHS, there are many others. These many opportunities, along with our mentoring program are organized and facilitated by our TigerPath Coordinator, Andrea Moore. Some of these opportunities include field trips, job shadowing, internships, guest speakers, career and job fairs. Each year our sophomores attend the Ignite Career Fair at Ridgewater College and HHS will be hosting our 3rd Job Fair this spring. In the past year, 961 students have been on a field trip, 120 students have had an internship and 21 students have been able to participate in a job shadow. On campus, we have exposed 309 students to guest speakers in different TigerPath areas. That’s a lot of career exploration and experiences! Of course none of this could happen without significant community support. According to HHS Counselor, Dave Ellefson, “Career exploration is now so much more of a community conversation.” Our community partnerships have grown in part due to the efforts of our TigerPath Coordinator. Andrea Moore works with community members, businesses, teachers and students to provide meaningful and mutually beneficial experiences for all. Students know to go to her and businesses can connect with her to partner with TigerPath in numerous ways.
As students go through their 4 years of high school, each February they are able to revisit their 4-year plan and update it. The opportunities and experiences available through our TigerPath programming throughout the 4 years allows for students to make informed decisions, ultimately preparing them for a future outside of Hutchinson High school.