Pathways for the Future

Pathways for the Future
Posted on 09/26/2017

The School Board of Akron Public Schools had one of its six mobile meetings for 2017 last night. The location was the auditorium at Firestone Community Learning Center where Principal Larry Johnson Jr. made a presentation about the school he leads. Johnson talked about the myriad programs the school features, rising enrollment and test scores plus the school’s award-winning arts programs.


Firestone CLC Principal Larry Johnson, Jr. addresses board meeting at his school. Board members who had been on stage, moved to audience seating for a vetter view of the screen.

But the night belonged to the news concerning all APS high schools and the new direction the school district is moving in to create new and better opportunities for students.

Students are about to see a new array of options to help them focus their education. The Director of the College & Career Academy initiative, Rachel Tecca, addressed the board and presented it with the finalized list of pathways students can take at the College & Career Academies. If approved by the board, the new direction will be in all APS high schools in two years.

(download the .pdf version below)

With considerable input from community, families and students, a design committee meticulously developed 56 pathways (available for download below) to fit into Buchtel, Firestone and East community learning centers and into STEM, Ellet, North and Kenmore-Garfield high schools. Rachel Tecca, the director of college and career academies, and Annie Hanson, the director of community relations and engagement at The University of Akron, delivered the wide-ranging presentation to the board with Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D.

The three detailed the research process that took the district from analyzing enrollment and student interest data to getting the most interested parties in Akron involved in multiple meetings to help create the list of pathways.

Hanson, formerly with ConxusNEO, said the committee focused on pathways that had both high job demand and high-paying wages in the 10-year outlook by ConxusNEO. The organization is a nonprofit that matches workers and skills to employers.

The most significant categories the design group identified were: arts, media and communication; public service; business marketing and IT; engineering, manufacturing and skilled trade, and health care.

Every high school in the district will begin implementing the College & Career Academy model in 2019. Students who are in eighth grade now will spend ninth grade in a freshman academy deciding on a pathway they will begin following in 10th grade.

The plan is flexible, too. Students will have one chance to switch their path in the three years that they’re in the College & Career Academy if they have a change of heart/mind.

Employed, Enrolled, Enlisted
McWilliams-Woods said the goal of the academies is to prepare students to be employed, enlisted in the military or enrolled in college by the time they graduate high school.

“A lot of work has gone into organizing this, planning this, and it all fits nicely into a wonderful puzzle that works to complement everything else that we’re doing in Akron Public Schools” said board member the Rev. Curtis T. Walker, Sr. He also said he felt the academies would help create a “broad, healthy student who could go out into the community and compete.”

Board member Lisa Mansfield added that the academies could even prepare students to do a combination of enlisting, enrolling or getting employed at the same time.

“I think that’s an excellent thing that we’ve worked in here as well,” Mansfield said. “It’s just a really important piece for these students.”

An informative meeting will be held Oct. 25 at Quaker Station to inform eighth-graders about their new options for education.

For more information on College & Career Academies of Akron, visit


CCAA Pathways.pdf

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