Jump Start is designed to steer students to careers
Morgan City High School teacher Ana Aloisio was lecturing her Allied Health I class Wednesday at Morgan City High School. The class is an introduction to the medical field offered by the school.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)
Nearly three dozen high school courses of study for nursing, carpentry, welding and other jobs have been approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. State Superintendent of Education John White says it's the first wave of Louisiana's overhaul of its career education system.
The Jump Start Graduation Pathways are designed to give high school juniors and seniors a way to earn national industry credentials and a newly-crafted Jump Start Career diploma, White said.
BESE approved the overhaul in March, and granted final approval in October of the first 33 career pathways submitted by the Graduation Pathway Review Panel. The legislature this year provided $12 million to boost career education.
Those 33 routes to various occupations were submitted by regional teams of school districts, colleges and economic development teams as well as statewide teams. Seven more pathways are up for consideration by BESE in January, Boudreaux said.
There are 11 active Jump Start Regional Teams across the state, encompassing all parishes. St. Mary Parish belongs to Bayou Regional Team along with Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. Pete Boudreaux, supervisor of Secondary Education, is the contact person for St. Mary Parish.
Post-secondary partners for the region are Fletcher Technical Community College, Nicholls State University and South Central Louisiana Technical College.
Industry partners include South Louisiana Economic Council, South Central Industrial Association, Bollinger Shipyards, Business First Bank, Candies Shipbuilders, Edison Chouset Offshore, Gulf Island Fabrication, Hutco, John Deere Thibodaux, KB Machine, Manpower, Oceaneering, Oceanwide, Terrebonne General Medical Center and Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.
Students have to earn 24 units in the TOPS curriculum. For the Jump Start diplomas, at least nine of the 23 required units have to be in the field picked to earn the new specialty diploma, which can include high school courses, dual-enrollment college classes, internships and industry training. The pathways amount to a course of study students need to finish to earn one of 35 credentials.
Boudreaux described the nine units needed for the degree as being chosen from a "bucket list of courses."
Boudreaux used the example of welding. Patterson High offers courses in welding, but Berwick High does not, he said. However, Berwick High does offer agri-science. So, Berwick students could take ag courses and then work with Patterson for the welding courses, all with an eye toward achieving the units needed to graduate with the career diploma.
Statewide graduation pathways include some that will not be offered in St. Mary Parish because of a lack of faculty or facilities. Those on tap for St. Mary Parish include carpentry, certified nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, oil and gas T2 safety systems, prostart/restaurant, fashion design and welder, Boudreaux said.
Pathways that can be offered with the assistance of Louisiana Technical College, Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City include drafting, electrician, pipefitter and web design professional.
Also among the offerings in St. Mary Parish are agriculture tech; hospitality, tourism, culinary and retail; welder's helper; and business management.
Boudreaux said he has held training sessions with high school principals and both junior high and high school guidance counselors to provide information on the pathways.
This year's freshmen are the first class who will be able to graduate with a Jump Start diploma in addition to the traditional pathways to graduation.
"The career diploma is designed to either get you working or get you to a technical school. There are so many jobs out there that don't require the four-year diploma and can make you a lot of money," Boudreaux said.
Classes such as Introduction to Business Computer Applications, speech and career awareness can be offered in the first two years of high school and serve as electives in the Jump Start pathway. Then, in the junior and senior years of high school, students will be able to take specialized courses in carpentry, welding, etc.
"As freshmen and sophomores, we're trying not to eliminate anyone from the TOPS curriculum," Boudreaux said, adding that the split will take place after sophomore year when students can opt into career pathways.