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Career Academies expand

The fall semester at 12 area high schools marks a new era for Central Lakes College and its partners in
educating the future workforce for high-skill, high-demand
Career Academies has been expanded from its original partnering districts to
reach a greater number of young people viewed as tomorrow’s employees. The
original group has expanded and the 2012-13 school year includes Brainerd,
Crosby-Ironton, Staples-Motley, Pillager, Aitkin, Browerville, Eagle Valley
(Clarissa), Little Falls, Pierz, Pine River-Backus, Sebeka, and
Swanville. Using the strength of each school’s existing course
catalog, the academies feature unique career themes and hands-on
learning. Partners with the college include businesses with resources dedicated to
exploration among high school students. As the students in grades 9-12 study an
array of careers in personal interest areas, they will have business experiences
such as tours, job shadows, and industry

its first year (2007-08), the collaboration helped students earn 1,415 college
credits, equating to more than $200,000 in college tuition savings. Students
benefitted from 227 job shadow placements in engineering, business, heath care,
manufacturing, small engine, trades, and law

Foremost in the restructured Career Academies is a focus
on the middle majority of students – the 60 percent for whom the future is a
wide-open unknown when it comes to having selected a

Bridges Academies exist within the Department of Education’s six Minnesota
“career clusters”: Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources; Arts,
Communications & Information Systems; Engineering, Manufacturing &
Technology; Health Science Technology; Human Services; Business, Management
& Administration.

There are no overarching qualifications to enroll in an
Academy; instead young people enroll because of a personal interest in the
career area.

Academies focus
around a combination of functional skills and technical skills that are designed
to provide students a route from pre-entry level qualifications to employment or
education. Learners gain support from faculty and business and industry partners
to select a career.

With a high school foundation laid, graduating students
may enroll in college, perhaps Central Lakes in Brainerd and Staples. Others
will enter the workforce with skills to use as an employer adds training for a
specific occupation.

“The new structure that allows each school to maximize
its unique academic strength evolved from input among our partners,” said Betsy
Picciano, CLC’s director of secondary relations. She said the innovative
approach aims to instill in young people not only technical knowledge but also
functional skills in English, mathematics, and social

a student proceeds, based on personal interest and career aspiration, to
complete Academies course work, he/she may learn skills of immediate use – for
example, from a Welding Academy, one can learn to repair a snowmobile or

an Engineering Academy, one learns electronics needed to design a robot and
mathematics to make design calculations, as well as writing strategies to record
a design and practice working as a member of a design

Completion of an
Academy will provide students with an opportunity to be recognized at their high
school graduation with a certificate and an Academy honor

Some Academies have courses that articulate for credit at
CLC, so a student may get a head start if pursuing post-secondary technical

addition to the12 school districts, partners in the Bridges Academies include
the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, Central Lakes Perkins Consortium, and Initiative
Foundation, the latter proving a $50,000 grant in support of

information, students should contact their high school guidance counselor. The
CLC contact is Betsy Picciano at (218) 855-8110 or

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