Photo submitted by Bob Manning

Seniors Henry Redfield, Jake Magner, Nick Magner, Montana Weeks and Michael Dollerschell work to remove a rollup window. They will work with Renewal by Andersen to install a donated glass window in its place. Students are helping with many projects associated with the office remodel, such as this window.

Pathways undergoes remodel, students taking charge

June 8, 2022

The Pathways office is currently being remodeled to give students an opportunity to get work experience. The office needed an update, and students are assisting with the workload. Local businesses are helping by serving as mentors. Students take time during one period of their school day to work on the project, and also take time outside of school. The remodel has been ongoing for a few months, and students have worked with many different businesses to learn about what they do.

Pathways first thought of an office remodel last school year. They were unable to begin the project due to everything going on with COVID in the last two years. The program wanted a way to provide experiences for students when they were unable to go out and visit places.

“We thought ‘We needed to do something with this office,'” Pathways coordinator Bob Manning said. “Why not hand that problem to the kids and connect them with people in the field that they might be interested in?”

The students work together to learn skills and take on the required roles in the project. Many students are in shop or design classes and have found out about the project through those means. These skills also assist the students inside and outside of school.

“I have to be able to know fully what’s going on,” Grace Haupt, junior and project designer, explained. “I’ve learned kind of how to balance more of my schoolwork, but also this other project.”

The Pathways program itself is also fairly new. It is programming that helps students discover themselves and their talents. The program matches courses and experiences to career fields of interest, and helps them develop skills and the context needed to make an informed choice after high school.

“You ask people, ‘What are you looking for?'” Manning asked. “‘What can we do better? What should we be doing?’ And then we kind of customized the Pathways program for [Stillwater].”

Many businesses within the area have stepped up to the role of mentoring the students. They teach students about what their businesses do, and help them create pieces for the office. This has been as much of a learning experience for the businesses as it has been for the students.

“I think it’s a different approach than the traditional teaching,” Smith and Trade partner Mina Carlson said. “We get to be hands on with the students and they love that because they want hands on. They get to see the effects of their own work while we really coach and mentor them.”

A student stands on a ladder and fills in grout around the edges of the pathways office.
Students are leading the pathways office remodel. It is opportunities such as these that teach collaboration, as well as skills for going into adult life. (Photo by Gabby Knowlan)

“They really get to see it come together, which is pretty amazing,” Smith and Trade founder Kelli Kaufer added.  “I don’t know of any other programs that really kind of do that.”

The main goal of the project is to showcase the work of students and elevate the image of the trades. Pathways wants to show all of the different routes that are available once someone completes high school. The program is changing the narrative that the success of a student is created solely through coursework.

When asked about the project goals, Manning said that he wants to elevate the image of the trades as a career option. He also wants to showcase what Pathways is about and wants kids who work on the project to have gained valuable experience that they can apply to their future plans.

The next step is to find ways to get students more interested in Pathways. The goal is to get the office to be recognized by students and staff, and create an inviting space, even if the door is not always actually open. Students and staff can feel comfortable walking into the Pathways office and engaging with the program.

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