ISD 181 Viewpoint: Helping prepare students for the world and workforce of tomorrow

ISD 181 Viewpoint: Helping prepare students for the world and workforce of tomorrow
Posted on 10/22/2017
Andrea Rusk

Imagine learning to cook from some of the area's leading chefs and graduating high school ready to land a well-paying job at a local restaurant or resort. Or working hands-on, side-by-side with construction professionals to build a home from the ground up. Or getting experience working in the healthcare industry and earning nursing assistant or home health aide certification.

At Brainerd High School, students don't just have to imagine having these career path options — these and many other options are available to them now. Hundreds of students take advantage of Bridges Career Academy and Advanced Standing Certificate courses to get real-world experience and prepare for good jobs after graduation. The only limitation now is lack of enough of the right space at the high school for the number of students wanting to prepare for tomorrow's workforce.

That's why the school district has pulled together a work group of local educators, business leaders and career professionals to look at ways we can support our successful Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at Brainerd High School—and make it even stronger.

The CTE work group's mission is to gain a deeper understanding of what our students need to get started on a fulfilling career and what skills are most in demand with employers — and then find ways to enhance workshops, labs and other career and technical training space in our building.

Here's a closer look at one of the set of courses offered through our Culinary Arts Academy and how community partnership makes it all possible. Local chefs from Kavanaugh's, Breezy Point, Cragun's, Madden's, Ruttger's, Grandview Lodge and other Brainerd lakes landmarks visit the high school classroom to teach hands on nutrition, preparing and serving food using equipment that professionals use. Students also learn about food and kitchen safety, plus behind-the-scenes restaurant operations including customer service, accounting and management skills. In the future, students hope to compete against other Minnesota high school students in a culinary competition. Watch out Top Chef!

You can find out more about the Culinary Arts Academy and other Bridges Career Academies courses on the Brainerd High School website.

Career and technical education is an important part of what we do at Brainerd High School because we are preparing kids for real world jobs and helping them learn the skills that are needed right here in our community. The new innovative programs were the result of our local business and industry contacting us for a discussion. To build on that success, with input from school teachers and other staff, students, business leaders and other community members the CTE work group is advising the Brainerd Public Schools Board of Education during its facility planning process that is underway now. We all want to make sure that we make the right investments in the future of our students, schools and community.

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