Thinking about the future can be daunting at any age, but at Scottsdale Unified School District, the goal is to help students explore their options in creative ways that count for credit and, in some cases, may even lead to certifications that can land them jobs.
Increasing Awareness of Possibilities
Amy Downs is the director of college and career readiness. She explained that preparing for the future doesn’t have to be stressful. Instead, it’s about getting students to explore and think about what problems they want to solve. The answer students give to that question can lead them to a volunteer or job shadowing experience, and that experience may educate students about different jobs and that can shape the courses they take.
Rather than choose classes based on whether a buddy is taking it, Downs wants students to realize they have more than 15 career pathway options to choose from in high school. They can use their elective credits to “find some connections to things that sound interesting.”
While many students wait until high school to start thinking about this, Downs encourages engagement with these questions of interest and future ventures of college and career in middle school. A class called Design My Future is tailored to help middle school students do just that.
Professional Training with Career & Technical Education (CTE)
At the high school level, SUSD offers exciting CTE opportunities. Students can use their elective credits for courses in career fields such as Engineering, Graphic Design, Networking and Cybersecurity, just to name to name a few.
Downs said families often think of only the more well-known technical programs such as construction or auto repair, which SUSD does offer through EVIT, but on SUSD campuses many of the classes are newer titles that are also in high demand.
The CTE classes are at least 50% hands-on, meaning the classes aren’t just practical, they’re fun, too.
“They are still work,” Downs said, “but they’re more skills-driven.”
Some of the IT courses offer a chance to earn certifications that can qualify students for jobs at companies such as Intel straight out of high school. The Nursing program provides clinical hours and a certification to begin working right away and helps students interested in pre-med majors.
The newest offering is a Law and Public Safety Class.
“It’s great for any student interested in the legal field, including social work, lawyers, law enforcement,” Downs added. “They get to hear 20 professionals in the field speak about what they do.”
She encouraged students interested in pre-law majors to check it out.
To learn more about CTE offerings, visit susd.org/cte.
SUSD is part of the City Sun Times Preferred Business Program.
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