In 2019 the Dell Rapids School District worked to define the Portrait of a DRHS Graduate. This work was in conjunction with the third phase of facility upgrades and serves as our North Star for continuous improvement. To determine what educational specifications will best serve our students, we’ve explored the question; Does our current combination of academic rigor and 21st Century skill development stimulate the level of deep learning opportunities critical for success in a constantly changing workforce?
Ultimately, student achievement should define a school district’s success. Achievement, although quite broad in scope, is uniquely individual for each student making the question above difficult to answer. It’s imperative we continue looking at the full resume our students acquire at DRPS and ensure it’s preparing them for success after high school. Further, all schools would be remiss if they expected students of the current generation to be educated and prepared as if the current workforce hasn’t changed significantly. I caution how this statement is interpreted as our students have, and always will need a strong foundation of academic skills. After former Governor Dennis Daugaard prioritized the lack of preparedness South Dakota students seemingly had for career pathways, resolving this perception became a priority throughout the state and DRHS.
The Dell Rapids Public School is exploring an expansion of our career pathways programming options for high school students. This would include learning skills and gaining practical experience through additional partnerships and expanding our Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings. CTE programming is an important component for high school students as it allows everyone the ability to personalize and explore career interests while developing unique skills simultaneously. Expanding our career pathways programming will assist both students looking to continue their education at the college or university level, or directly enter the workforce after graduation.
Although work has already been done, space has historically been a barrier to CTE expansion. Fortunately, after a successful transition to Foreman Bus Services, we have the building and land where our bus barn stands to possibly house additional CTE offerings such as auto-mechanics or construction. Prior to deciding the building’s fate, it will be imperative that our plan is not just supported, but rather designed through stakeholder engagement. Discussions surrounding career pathways programming will begin this spring. Our team intends to visit with students, parents, community leaders, and business owners. Only by listening can we understand the unique perceptions our educational community has regarding workforce skills and how our students and community can benefit from additional opportunities.
Upon notice, I urge your participation in the discussions that align with your area of interest. To generate a thorough list of possible offerings and partnerships, I’d ask that you consider sharing your suggestions for consideration with me at summer.schultz@K12.sd.us.