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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Julie Critz, school superintendent, and Doug Houska, business leader
July 31, 2015

Innovative Minnesota approach preparing high school students for careers

Overview

Julie Critz, school superintendent, and Doug Houska, business leader, describe a pioneering approach in Alexandria, MN, to give all high school students more knowledge about, and practical experience in, future careers. Their approach, known as Academies of Alexandria, is patterned after Academies of Nashville, TN.

All Alexandria students in grades 10-12 enroll in one of three academies, (1) engineering, manufacturing, technologies and natural resources (2) business, communications and entrepreneurship, and (3) health sciences and human services. Students in grade 9 enroll in freshman academy and may take classes in each of the other three to help them select the academy they'd like to join in the 10th grade.

Central to the Alexandria approach is intimate cooperation between the school district and the community's employers.

 

For the complete interview summary see: Critz-Houska interview

 

Response Summary: Readers rated these statements about the topic and about points discussed during the meeting, on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

  

1. Topic is of value. The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

 

2. Further study warranted. It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

 

3. Students unaware of possible careers. Far too many young people are graduating from high school with little knowledge of possible careers.

 

4. Design classes to inform. High school classes should be designed to help students learn about and gain practical experience in major occupational areas.

 

5. Partnerships essential. Close partnerships between educators and employers in each community are essential.

 

6. Teacher internships valuable. A valuable component is for teachers to take summer internships with community employers.

 

7. Alexandria offers worthy model. A worthy model has been pioneered by the Alexandria, Minn., schools, where high school students in grades 10-12 are enrolled in one of three

occupational academies.

 

8. District, employer cooperation key. A key advantage of  the Alexandria approach is its intimate cooperation between the school district and the community's employers.

 

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

0%

0%

43%

57%

7

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

0%

86%

14%

7

3. Students unaware of possible careers.

0%

0%

0%

57%

43%

7

4. Design classes to inform.

0%

0%

0%

43%

57%

7

5. Partnerships essential.

0%

0%

0%

29%

71%

7

6. Teacher internships valuable.

0%

0%

0%

43%

57%

7

7. Alexandria offers worthy model.

0%

0%

0%

29%

71%

7

8. District, employer cooperation key.

0%

0%

0%

29%

71%

7

 

Individual Responses:

Anonymous   (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 6. Teacher internships valuable. Most people, including teachers don't understand how the subjects they teach can connect kids with local employment opportunity.

 

7. Alexandria offers worthy model. Amazing!! Ideally all kids would have this incredible experience.

 

8. District, employer cooperation key. The energy, excitement and real world application and communication of needs and skills needed [are] essential. The financial investment by business is generous and needed to accomplish a project of this proportion.   

 

Patrick Walsh  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 

Paul Hauge  (9)  (8)  (8)  (7)  (10)  (9)  (9)  (10)

 Hopefully other districts are hearing about and considering a similar program whether total revision or at least partial to allow students with an interest in trade and IT skills to be trained.

 

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 I’m very encouraged by this program. It fits student’s learning needs and greatly increases student engagement. Too many high school students in other schools are marking time. I’d like to learn more. For example, have they departed from all students having to take algebra II, a ridiculous requirement inserted by the Legislature a few years ago?

 

Lois Josefson  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

 Look forward to talking about this in greater depth.  Thank you for having this session and, as always, for sharing it.

 

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (8)  (9)  (6)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (9)  (9)

 I believe it has a better chance of working when most of the students are very similar.

 

Chuck Lutz  (9)  (7)  (9)  (9)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (9)

 

Tom Spitznagle  (10)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 It is extremely gratifying to know that educators, employers and the public can work collaboratively to achieve great things.  Typically, public schools have been very insular – sending a clear message that they are the education experts and that outside opinions or suggestions are unwelcome.  Alexandria school’s approach is revolutionary in that it is very customer (students and the community) focused.  Even the building design is part of an integrated strategy.  Some elements of the successful “distributive education” approach of the 70’s (designed to expose students to local businesses and provide some actual work experience in a variety of industries) are apparent in Alexandria’s new strategy.  Good work!

 

To receive these interview summaries as they occur, email civiccaucus@comcast.net         Follow us on Twitter

 

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman

 

 

 


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.
 

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