Nicholson: Progress on pathways is encouraging

Building pathways for students to college and jobs is a key responsibility of the Lynn Public Schools (LPS). We have some exciting updates on our vocational pathways.

As recently reported in The Item, the Technical Afterschool Program (T.A.P.) is having a successful second year.

A few years ago, I read a report by Commonwealth Magazine on the gap between the number of seats at vocational-technical schools and the number of interested students. When I asked the team at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute if we could offer any programs to students at the other high schools who might be interested in vocational training, Lynn Tech guidance counselor Brian O’Connell designed and launched a program that exceeded my expectations.

In fact, at our last School Committee meeting, an LPS alumnus who has found his way into a trade without the benefit of an experience at Lynn Tech came back to applaud the program. If such an opportunity had existed when he was in high school, he said, he might have found the trade earlier without the student loan debt he now carries.

There are other examples. Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler is proposing an innovative option for eighth-graders to explore Lynn Tech. This will also be a step towards addressing the overcrowding in our middle schools.

A team of educators at Lynn Classical is evaluating how to recognize the valuable skills and experience that students who work are gaining outside the classroom. Our students who work full-time, support a family and still go to school to lay the foundation for a better life show amazing strength and commitment. We owe it to them to be creative to meet their needs.

Working with Lynn Tech and the LPS administration, Fecteau-Leary educators, our alternative junior/senior high school, have proposed a series of exciting new vocational training opportunities for their middle-schoolers.

Finally, the heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) program at Lynn Tech is scheduled to open this fall. It takes years of hard work and planning by staff and administrators to launch a new program like this. With HVAC jobs in such high demand, this new offering is well-timed.

The common thread in these examples is capitalizing on existing strengths to expand pathways to jobs. LPS will continue to insist on high academic standards. We are showing more and more that vocational training complements (rather than replaces) academic learning and expands (rather than narrows) students’ options for their future.

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