By John R. Schirmer
Nashville High School officials are considering a college and career readiness program to begin during the 2018-19 academic year.
Principal Tate Gordon said the program will be designed to help students who aren’t going to college prepare for their careers after high school.
Earlier in the year, Gordon and others from the district attended a meeting in Little Rock where career programs were discussed. They’ve also met with the Arkansas Department of Education.
“We do a good job of preparing students for college,” Gordon said. “We’re lacking in preparing those students who aren’t going to a four-year school. We want to try to put something in place to help those students.”
Act 867 of the 2017 Arkansas General Assembly allows schools to have flexible student attendance. The law repeals the mandatory attendance seat time for schools and allows students the opportunity to receive credit for online coursework and work they do off site.
“At NHS, we are focusing on creating personal and academic success for each student, because we recognize that not every student will pursue a degree from a four-year college or university,” Gordon said.
“Many seniors are taking electives to fill their regular school day seat time. Absenteeism can be an issue with many students, and many tend to have low grades in these elective courses simply because they do not see the need to put forth the effort” if they don’t need the credit to meet the required 28 credits to graduate, according to Gordon.
“By eliminating some of the required seat time, we believe students will be less likely to have attendance problems or likely be in danger of becoming a high school drop out and will know they are participating in a program that is relevant to their future goals.”’
NHS has “a very strong program with UA Cossatot in regard to concurrent credit and career/tech courses,” Gordon said. “We also have a list of job shadowing and job internship opportunities available within our district for those who may not have transportation available or those who are interested in areas we have available.”
Some of those areas include technology assistant, job shadowing elementary and primary teachers for those desiring a career in elementary education, job shadowing maintenance department or bus shop mechanic for those interested in the maintenance or mechanic field, Gordon said.
An informal poll last week of sophomores and juniors showed considerable interest in pursuing internships, working during the school day, taking college classes on another campus and volunteering in the community, Gordon said.
A career program would be supervised by a teacher on campus.
“If students aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities in the program, they’ll be pulled back on campus,” Gordon said. “This will be a benefit to our students and patrons in the community. It will let students see the type of work that’s done and decide what they want to do.”
A number of schools around the state have been approved for similar programs.
If Nashville receives approval, next year’s seniors will be the first to participate.
“We’ll target a definite number of kids for an interview process. The first year, we’l see how many sign up We don’t want 400 leaving after lunch.”
The program will “give students the opportunity to work in areas they’re thinking of going into or take additional college classes or job shadow.”