By Andrea Moore, TigerPath Coordinator
This is the philosophy behind Hutchinson Public School’s TigerPath program. We know that a “one-size-fits-all” educational system does not serve students or society in the most productive way because every student has a unique set of abilities, gifts, and interests. Hutchinson’s TigerPath program is a partnership between the school system, Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce, Hutchinson Economic Development Authority, Ridgewater College, Southwest Initiative Foundation, and dozens of local businesses and organizations, designed to provide more opportunities and better educational outcomes for our youth. In short, TigerPath helps to answer the question we’ve all been asked, “What do you want to be or do when you grow up?”
The concept of TigerPath has been around since at least 2014 in Hutchinson, but really came to fruition with the 2018 renovation of the high school, and the subsequent hiring of a full-time TigerPath Coordinator. The funding for the TigerPath Coordinator position was largely provided through the Youth Skills Training Grant from the MN Department of Labor and Industry, and this has been crucial to the success of the program.
The four TigerPath Academies, condensed from the Minnesota Department of Education’s 6 Career Fields, are as follows: STREAM, SCI-HI, Business, and Human Services. Each TigerPath Academy has a set of recommended classes designed to prepare students for further education and/or future careers within that general area of study. Any of the academies can lead a student to a 2-year school, 4-year school, graduate school, a military career, or even direct employment into the workforce. Students have flexibility to “try on” different academy options and to switch academies if they wish.
Along with the wonderful opportunities that happen WITHIN the walls of our schools, we are able to provide additional opportunities for students OUTSIDE the walls of our schools. As one of our long-time counselors said, “Since the creation of TigerPath, career exploration is so much more of a COMMUNITY conversation.” We are able to offer students access to career fairs, job shadows, internships, quality tours, industry recognized credentials, and career mentoring opportunities, all because of our talented educators and our supportive community partners.
Parents, of course, can help their students in this career exploration endeavor. Watch and observe what energizes your child, praise them when they exhibit a skill that you know will benefit them in their personal or professional adult lives, share your own career path with them, and encourage them to make an appointment with TigerPath Coordinator to talk about their interests and possibly set up a job shadowing opportunity.
Many visitors to our school have commented on the amazing level of collaboration within our community and the obvious benefits that it has for our students. We are incredibly grateful for that collaboration, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for our students and our community!
If you have any questions about our program, please feel free to contact Andrea Moore, TigerPath Coordinator, at [email protected] or 320-234-2658. Our website is www.hutchtigerpath.com