Celebrations and Planning in the SDMA

Celebrations and Planning in the SDMA
Posted on 06/01/2017

It has been an exciting week in the School District of the Menomonie Area (SDMA). After a very nice graduation ceremony and senior “lock in” at Menomonie High School on Saturday, schools across the district wrapped up the school year with several field trips, classroom parties, and other reward-types of activities. The last day of school for students in the SDMA was Friday, June 2.

Now that the 2016-2017 school year is complete, more effort and attention is quickly shifting to the future. School officials and district leaders are busy filling staffing vacancies, reviewing achievement data, setting goals for next year, and planning for various program improvements. One of the district goals for the 2017-2018 school year will be to successfully launch the use of Academic and Career Plans (ACPs) in our school district.

In June 2012, the WI Department of Public Instruction (DPI) launched Agenda 2017, Every Child a Graduate, College and Career Ready. As part of this statewide initiative, local districts were charged with identifying ways to best prepare students to be ready for life after high school. While some school districts have responded to stricter accountability mandates by emphasizing focus on more traditional academic coursework, and, at times, reduced or eliminated instruction in elective areas, the SDMA has worked to prioritize all content areas that provide students opportunities to develop both college- and career-readiness skills. This approach is part of the SDMA’s long-standing vision and commitment to a “whole child” approach to instruction.

Beginning in the fall of 2017, all students in grades 6-12, will be developing Academic and Career Plans. This is part of a statewide initiative to help best prepare students for their futures with the skills necessary to be successful, no matter which path they take after high school. The DPI describes the creation and use of ACPs as “a student-driven, adult-supported process in which students create and cultivate their own unique and information-based visions for post-secondary success, obtained through self-exploration, career exploration, and the development of career management and planning skills.” 

Locally, SDMA staff teams have been preparing for ACPs since 2015. This process has involved reviewing existing course offerings, updating how guidance staff meet and plan with students and families, and ensuring students have access to a wide range of course offerings offered in a variety of ways. This process, led jointly by our Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Guidance and Counseling departments, involves staff from all content areas as part of our whole child approach.

The SDMA has a wide range of options that prepare students for college and career. Currently students can choose from eighteen different courses within the Career and Technical Education department that allow students to earn postsecondary credit for coursework completed at Menomonie High School. This is in addition to the many Advanced Placement (AP) courses offered. During the 2016-2017 school year, 113 SDMA students participated in the WI Skill Certificate Program in areas that, when finished, will provide DPI awarded State Skills Certifications to completers. The SDMA also partnered with seventeen different local businesses for Youth Apprenticeships.

Should school families or community stakeholders have any questions or concerns about Academic Career Plans, or anything else in our school district, I invite you to visit me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue, or contact me at 715-232-1642. More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (www.sdmaonline.com), and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sdmaonline) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/menomonie.schools)

Thank you to SDMA Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brian Seguin and MHS Teacher and CTE Coordinator Ryan Sterry for contributing to this column.