Kent County school district launching online program, career center
By Monica Scott, MLive
For the 2019-20 school year, Northview Public Schools is launching a new online learning program, the Northview Next Learning Center and the Northview Next Career Center for alternative students.
The school district is partnering with Graduation Alliance on the online program to provide another pathway to high school graduation for youth and adults ages 15 to 20, according to Liz Cotter, interim deputy superintendent and director of People, Organization and Accreditation.
“Online education is growing around the state and we wanted to expand our options to parents,’’ Cotter said. “We will have mentors to help students stay on track to receive their diploma.’’
Cotter said an online education is an attractive option for students for a variety of reasons, including if they need the flexibility to be able work, significant health issues, or just want the ability to move at their own pace.
The Northview Next Learning Center will offer extended hours of operation, including summer and evening hours, so that students can develop a schedule that meets with work requirements, health issues, or other barriers to a traditional high school schedule.
Besides mentors, the center will have an online instructor as well as an on-site teacher available. There will also be social and emotional support services and job services available to students.
Cotter said the second new educational avenue for students is the Northview Next Career Center. She said it is a newer, expanded version of the alternative high school, located on their East Campus.
She said students will now have skills-based career classes embedded into the everyday curriculum, in addition to internships, job-shadows, co-ops and part-time jobs.
District leadership began thinking about revamping the program after the success last school year of two new initiatives, according to Cotter.
Through a partnership with Grand Rapids Community College, last year alternative students had an opportunity to earn multiple certificates in the skilled trades. On Fridays, juniors and seniors were at Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC, every Friday for five hours of training from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The district’s “Future Focused Fridays,” extended beyond the GRCC program, increasing student engagement with business and industry in the region.
While some students were at GRCC, others were taking courses at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology or traveling to various workplaces for career exposure such as Start Garden and Rockford Construction.
“Once Future Focused Fridays took off there was a lot of enthusiasm,’’ Cotter said. “We have now grown our partnerships to provide students even more opportunities.’’
The opportunities this school year span across a variety of industries, including mechanics, art, technology and real estate.
Brent Dickerson, principal of Northview Alternative High School, said the district guarantees that students who graduate from Northview Next will feel prepared and inspired to be life-long learners.
“The future of our workforce depends on the education and support we provide for our students now,” said Dickerson, in a statement. “We give students hope by showing they have the skills employers demand and can truly be successful learners in the classroom and on the job site.’’
Northview had a student population of 3,327 students the 2018-19 school year, according to the state. For more information or to register for Northview Next initiatives, visit the district website or call central office, 616-363-6861.