A word that students start hearing in 8th grade is “Pathway.” Most relate it to the “Connections” classes taught in middle school. It is more than that in high school. It has the potential to be the door opening to your future. A “Pathway” can also help you decide if you do not like a particular field of study. High school is a safe place to try new things and see if they fit. Hopefully a student finds something they wish to study further in their future education.
There are four types of Pathway focus at North Forsyth High School. There are three levels of
achievement based on criteria met by the student. The first level is “Seal” and the student receives a seal on their diploma based on the completion of the required courses and in some cases an End of Pathway Assessment. The second level is a “Seal of Distinction” in which the student receives a special seal of distinction and it includes the requirements for the basic seal as well as a minimum GPA and the completion of a community service project is the selected subject area. The highest level of achievement is the “Medallion” level. The student receives the seal on their diploma as well as a medallion or pin worn at graduation. To reach this goal, the student must fulfill the requirements of the seal, seal of distinction as well as be a member of a related honor society, complete a series of world language courses and complete at least two Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment or International Baccalaureate classes.
There is the Advanced Academics Pathway which includes taking and excelling in advanced academic classes. There is also a Fine Arts Pathway which includes music, drama, journalism and visual arts. The World Languages Pathway includes five different languages. And then there is the Career Pathway which is referred to CTAE, Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education. This pathway includes many choices such as robotics, healthcare, marketing, computer science, food science, agricultural, audio/video, digital media, JROTC, education and engineering.
The counselors at North are an excellent resource for students and parents when making a decision about a pathway. When asked about reasons a pathway might be suggested to a student, Ms. Wigley, North Forsyth Lead Counselor, tells us “the student’s personality, aptitude, and interests all contribute to finding a personally rewarding career. We advise students to try the first class in a pathway to see if they want to go further in that pathway. If they determine they do not want to continue in that pathway, they can explore another pathway the next year. We also have freshmen complete an interest inventory building on the work done by middle school counselors.”
When asked if she thought many students chose more than one pathway, Ms. Wigley said “Many students have more than one pathway. For pathway recognitions as seniors, there are four areas in which to be a Pathway Scholar with Distinction; Advanced Academic, World Language, Fine Arts, and CTAE. We have students who will get a pin in all four areas.”
With over 2,000 students at North, many people wonder how many students who begin a pathway actually complete it versus those students who do not complete a pathway after taking an introductory class. North Forsyth has a tracking system in place. Ms. Wigley explained that “our CTAE Department Chair, Ms. Anderson-Rush, and the CTAE department look at data such as retention rate within a pathway. In fact, all department chairs and our administration look at data to see trends including how many students are taking which AP classes, how many students are completing pathways and going on to qualify for a pin and a medallion, how many students are requesting what courses, and so on. We use that information to help develop the master schedule and identify services we want to provide for our community.
And what do the students think? Rylie Allen, a North Sophomore, and Healthcare Pathway student, said that she “chose her pathway as a sophomore and not a freshman” and her choice was based on her “want to help others get better and help treat those with illnesses” as well as “it will help me in the future when I go to college by helping me better understand the career I am going into.” Rylie has joined the HOSA organization for future healthcare professionals. When asked what she enjoys the most about your career pathway at North she says “I enjoy learning more about all the different careers within this pathway that I could choose to major in.”
The choices and opportunities are endless at North Forsyth High School. For more about what other students and staff are saying about the CTAE pathway choices at North, you can view the Career Tech at NFHS video online at http://www.esenetworks.com/player.aspx?id=5201&content-id=121621.