New North Clackamas class gives students 'real world' skills
A new course called College and Career Readiness launched in September in the North Clackamas School District.
The district had two similar classes many years ago that were canceled due to budget cuts. This year, College and Career Readiness was made possible by voters' 2016 approval of Measure 98, which funds career and technical education to prevent high school dropouts and increase postsecondary enrollment.
Fantaysia Ramsey, a senior at Rex Putnam High School, said that in the class they "learn things we need to know in the real world; we learn about life."
Mike Stead teaches the class at Rex Putnam High School, and Mary Rehmann teaches it at Clackamas High School. They met with Clackamas High School's Vice Principal Joe Bridgeman and Rex Putnam Vice Principal Ryan Richardson in the summer of 2017 as they started to morph the class into what it is today. They wanted to make the class hands-on and engaging, rather than a typical study hall class. That is when they decided on the name: College and Career Readiness. In August 2017, Stead and Rehmann worked 40-50 hours a week building the first unit for the class.
The class is three-pronged, divided into learning objectives of financial literacy, career exploration and postsecondary options. To start the semester off, students learn about budgeting, loans, grants, credit, etc. This allowed students to be aware of their options when they reach adulthood and are looking to financially invest their money or build their credit.
The second unit gives students the opportunity to discover potential careers they may want to pursue. Also in the second unit, students learn how to create a résumé, as well as other important documents needed when joining the workforce.
"Having to think long-term is a skill, just like math and reading. This class is giving students the opportunity to practice this skill and, hopefully, be able to improve as well," Stead said.
To end the semester, students learn about postsecondary options after high school other than the typical four-year university. Doors they may not be aware of such as trade schools, military or apprenticeships are opened to them.
"The biggest thing I hear from students is just how much they appreciate doing things earlier and getting this ball rolling and recognizing the different options that are out there," Richardson said.
Students also learn how they can pay for these opportunities through financial aid and grants. This opened many doors for students that were under the impression a university was out of their budget. Richardson said that "people who have thought that college is just too expensive or not possible are now rethinking," because of College and Career Readiness and the knowledge it has given students.
Rex Putnam junior Alyssa Marchant said, "Mr. Stead had a really big impact on my experience in the class. The things we learn are things I'm actually going to need in life. It's different from a typical core class. In this class, the units are evidently useful."