ETHS Board of Education discusses courses, workforce


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Career Options Night at ETHS. Board members discussed opportunities for students to explore different careers at a school board meeting Monday.

James Pollard, Reporter

Evanston Township High School/District 202 board members examined opportunities for ETHS students to enter the workforce and explore career interests at a school board meeting Monday.

Peter Bavis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and Shelley Gates, chair of ETHS’s Career and Technical Education Department, presented information to the board about resources for students to connect their high school classes and extracurriculars to their careers. They also discussed a collaboration with Mayor Steve Hagerty to help students seeking careers that do not require a college degree to develop those career pathways.

“We basically try to have courses in every one of the pathways so that students have the opportunity to see if that pathway is the right choice for them,” Gates said. “Part of our goal is to have not only have entry level courses, so that you can get a sense if you like it, but then to provide opportunity for students who are interested to go more deeply into a particular career pathway.”

Gates said the Career Pathways Programs of Study Guide outlines the ways career interests and high school classes connect. Geared towards high school students and their parents, the handbook suggests specific classes to students interested in specific careers.

The program acknowledges that many careers have different entry points, Gates said. For example, she said the many jobs within the health industry have different requirements: For some jobs a doctorate is necessary, but others require an industry credential.

“We are trying to move away from the idea of the courses being called ‘electives’ and call them ‘pathway courses,’ because for some students, they really are very important to their future plans,” Gates said. “ I think by calling them ‘electives’ they seem like… it doesn’t matter as much.”

ETHS will also host its second Career Options Night on March 14. The event is targeted toward students interested in careers that may not require a four-year degree. AT&T, the Evanston Fire and Police Departments, the Youth Job Center and several manufacturing companies will be there.

Bavis and Gates thanked Tom Ward of Ward Manufacturing for his participation with the program. Gates said the partnership has been an amazing experience for both the company and the students.

“He was really a trailblazer in providing pathways for our kids right out of high school, right onto the shop floor and then supporting them through certification programs,” Bavis said.

Hagerty’s Summer Youth Employment Program Job Fair will take place on Saturday at ETHS. The program seeks to provide skills for at-risk youth ages 14 to 18 through entry-level jobs. In addition to that initiative, the Mayor’s Employer Advisory Council seeks to provide ETHS graduates and young adults in Evanston, who are not attending a four-year university, with the financial means to live in Evanston by building strong connections between local employers and young people.

ETHS board member Patricia Maunsell said she likes the career pathways guide because it is exciting to see how the classes students take — from technical classes to English — and the activities they get involved in can lead to different degrees and careers.

“What I love about this is the complexity of it,” Maunsell said. “That this isn’t about any one path — it’s multiple paths.”

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