St. Paul Public Schools is opening a new career center next week on the St. Paul College campus, where students from district high schools can take courses in high-demand fields, earning industry certifications and competing for internships.
The new Career Pathways Center is taking over the college’s old and mostly empty College Learning Center, on the southwest corner of the campus.
The career center will open Tuesday with 150 students and 16 courses, three of which will be held on the main college campus and one at St. Catherine University.
The district is moving to block scheduling for all high schools this fall, which will enable students from several schools to learn together at the career center. Superintendent Joe Gothard said that will give the district enough students to offer more careers courses.
“We think it’ll take off,” he said.
The center is the next step for a district that in Gothard’s five years has emphasized career exploration, with special counselors in the high schools and new software where students as early as preschool create personal learning plans.
Some school districts have separate career academies where students spend their entire school day. Gothard preferred a model that maintains the connection to students’ home schools, where they can participate in extracurriculars.
“I think high school identity is important,” he said.
Juniors and seniors will take morning classes and eat lunch at their home high schools, then ride buses to the career center for the afternoon. Each high school will continue to offer its own career-focused courses.
3M is supporting the center with a $5 million gift over five years, part of its $50 million racial equity and social justice initiative announced in 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Courses are being offered in four general fields: human services, science and medical, business and communications, and innovative and emerging technologies.
“These are areas for us at 3M that are extremely relevant, especially when we think about what the future of work will look like,” Michael Stroik, the company’s vice president of community relations, said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
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