Schools receive grant for Re-VISION

September 8, 2018

Brady and North Platte Public Schools have made big changes to help students prepare better for life after high school, with support from Nebraska Department of Education in the form of Carl Perkins Re-VISION Action grants.

Brady received over $18,000 and North Platte $47,680. This is the second year North Platte has received the grant.

Brady School Superintendent James McGown said one goal is to show students opportunities close to home, so they are less likely to settle somewhere else.

“Our greatest export as our state is our students,” he said.

He hopes their new emphasis will do something about that.

McGown said they have partnerships with Great Plains Health, First National Bank in North Platte and Gothenburg State Bank, but are focusing on businesses in and around Brady too. People do not realize how much is going on here, he said. In addition to farming and ranching there are construction, retail and home based businesses, Central Public Power, medical services, a sawmill, businesses connected with Jeffrey Lake, and others.

McGown and Vikki Carlson, Re-VISION grant manager for North Platte Public Schools, both said they are pleased with support from area businesses.

McGown said Brady added courses, including a natural resources utilization class that will begin next year. It will address wind and solar energy and resources such as water and cedar trees, an abundant resource in the area.

“We want our students to look at what we have here and ways to utilize it,” he said.

Beginning in their freshman year, students at Brady will take a career class that involves job shadowing and internship projects, McGown said. It complements the school-to-work program that has been in place at Brady Schools for several years: If seniors have satisfied graduation requirements, they can take part of the school day to go to work and earn five high school credits at the same time.

“We’ve had more students inquire and participate in the last two years,” he said.

Carlson said the Re-VISION program at North Platte begins with elementary school, where each grade focuses on one of the six career fields outlined in NDE’s “Nebraska Career Education Model.”

Career and college readiness continues in middle school, where students take elective style classes from family and consumer sciences to technology, computer business and engineering. In eighth grade all students take a class to further explore the six fields.

“Historically we’ve waited until junior or senior year” to look at aptitudes, Carlson said, but not anymore. All ninth graders take the YouScience assessment to help them make better-informed decisions on career paths.

“By the time we are about 15-(years-old) our aptitudes are set,” and “it’s important to know how you’re are wired as an individual,” she said.

North Platte High School also implemented “Bulldog time” this year, lasting 25-30 minutes a day. Students explore careers and have one-on-one time with educators, who serve as mentors and help students keep track of their progress in classes.

“Fridays are a celebratory day,” said Carlson, when students may do community service or academic competitions like news bowls.

Several teachers also worked this summer to develop a career manual for educators to use when advising and mentoring students, said Carlson. High school students who are on track have the opportunity to be involved in internships with participating businesses. The district hired an internship facilitator and career coach and created a career center adjacent to the advisors’ offices at the high school.

North Platte High School expanded their partnership with Mid-Plains Community College, which includes dual credit courses, and began partnering with Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, said Carlson.

The NCTA partnership resulted in online courses and formation of an animal science academy and a vet tech academy. They also added an agricultural education program at the high school. Although agriculture, food and natural resources is one of NDE’s six core academics, agriculture was missing previously from their offerings.

Carlson said North Platte Public Schools research what other schools are doing, too. There are “hidden gems” that schools can share with each other, she said.

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