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West Plains School District Receives Pathways for Teachers Grant


Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) was one of the original 12 states selected to partnered with Pathways to Prosperity, an initiative of Jobs for the Future and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to prepare high school students to be college and career ready and equipped to meet the demands of today’s workforce.  Pathways connects education with business partners and post-secondary programs to equip students with the skills and credentials needed to succeed in a demanding labor market.  The areas of high demand are Advanced Manufacturing, Health Science, and Information Technology.

The West Plains School District has been awarded a Pathways for Teachers Grant which will provide professional development and curriculum authoring opportunities for district faculty and staff. 

The district is implementing the grant in the form of an externship program through the South Central Career Center (SCCC) to provide career awareness as professional development for district teachers and counselors.

The district seeks to eliminate any stigma for students attached with programs housed in the SCCC. Educating district counselors and middle/high school instructors to reduce the expectation that low-performing students excel in technical programs because they believe it will be easy for them to complete and acquire a credential. The SCCC externship will educate participants through presentations, field experiences and hands on demonstrations, that Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs require an in-depth knowledge of communication arts, math and science. It is the district’s hope, to educate instructors and counselors of the requirements and job potential for technical programs so each may encourage and enroll high performing students in SCCC courses.

The district teams of West Plains Middle School and West Plains High School teachers spend professional development days observing and training at the SCCC and other area businesses. The training will cover CTE indicators, industry needs and high demand careers in the area. After the initial training, participants will engage in hands-on activities with instructors in SCCC technical labs to illustrate the type of preparation provided by the district which will lead toward seamless post-secondary transitions and promote on-going personal and professional growth, based on current industry standards and best practices.

Next, teams will tour business and industries that serve our students and communities to demonstrate what these careers look like in practice. The facilitator will bring the objective together on their final day by moderating a panel of human resource personnel and participant presentations. Participants will make a final presentation to the board of education. The grant pays for substitutes and stipend for curriculum revision.

“DESE is pleased to be able to assist school districts with teacher externship experiences.  Students ultimately benefit when teachers, counselors, and administrators have business and industry exposure.  These school-business partnerships help connect work place experience to make the classroom more relevant. With the current nationwide skills gap our students have so many career prospects that require some post-secondary training, but less than a 4 year degree, to have a career earning a family living wage with opportunity to advance to higher levels of education and employment.” – Steve Bryant, Missouri Career Pathways Manager