GO TO >> See our Innovative Model of Education Featured Multiple Times in Huffington Post & GettingSmart.com, including the latest blog profiling our Jr. Class President & GenDIY Student, Ashley.

GO TO >> See our Innovative Model of Education Featured Multiple Times in Huffington Post & GettingSmart.com, including the latest blog profiling our Jr. Class President & GenDIY Student, Ashley.

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Featured Blog Articles

Huffington Post Version GettingSmart.com Version

Student to Creative Director: Why Learner Experience Matters

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GenDIY Profile: Career Path High School

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How I Paved my Unique Path with Career Path High

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What it’s like to Teach GenDIY Students at Career Path High

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Student to Creative Director: Why Learner Experience Matters

By Robyn Bagley

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Ashely GenDIY Blog 2Walk into our Learning Center on any given day and you will find the artwork of Ashley posted in various strategic locations. She is the designated artistic director for Student Leadership Council activities. Her artwork is clever and whimsical. She’s definitely got talent. But it goes beyond that. Ashley has the drive and initiative to hack her own pathway to the career she loves. She is a GenDIY student.

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Ashley came to Career Path High at the beginning of her Junior year. Up to that point in time she had always attended her neighborhood public schools. I wanted to better understand what motivates a successful, well adjusted student like Ashley to make an education lane change in the middle of her high school experience. I interviewed Ashley and asked her several questions.

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Ashley’s long-term goal is to become an Art Director. As she describes it, “An Art Director is someone who is in charge of unifying or bringing together the overall vision for a creative project. My dream would be to work for a large animation/special effects company and help create the magic that I have seen in movies and film growing up.” Ashley has been eyeing a couple of specialized colleges in California and dreams of an internship with a company such as Pixar. My bet is her dream will come true.

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Ashley GenDIY Blog 5Ashley has no trouble taking charge and unifying. In addition to her art talent, she is driven and goal-oriented and a natural leader. Her drive for excellence prevents her from taking a back seat. That’s why she had no problem stepping up to run for Junior Class President.

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She’s always been involved at school. So what made a student like Ashley choose to trade in the trappings of a traditional public school for a mission driven early college charter? “I have always enjoyed being involved in school, whether it be drill team or different clubs, but I chose this model because I knew that it would get me to where I want to go. I am able to focus on preparing for the future instead of focusing on my social status.”

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By traditional education standards, Ashley seemingly had it all. Yet she wanted more from her high school experience. She told me, “I’ve never really gotten caught up in high school politics or the social ladder. I’m here to learn. High school for me is more about preparing for the future and working towards my overall goals.”

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What Ashley found in Career Path High’s early college model was an opportunity for a more direct pathway to her goal of becoming an Art Director. “I decided to transfer from my traditional high school to Career Path High because upon discovering the Digital Media Design program I just knew that it was the perfect model for me.”

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She expressed that this model gives her the flexibility to start working towards her ultimate career goal without having to get stuck on a pathway predetermined for her, as was the case at her traditional high school. “I really enjoy that Career Path High allows and encourages me to chase after my dreams. Their model gives me the chance to work as far and as fast as I need to in order to accomplish all of my plans. The teachers and administration are focused on my learning style, my personal growth and my plans for education.” Ashley saw an opportunity to reimagine her education and she took it.

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Ashley GenDIY Blog 4The Career Path High model is designed to empower GenDIY students like Ashley over their learning experience, so I asked Ashley about this. Her journey at Career Path High has taught her things about herself that she did not know–valuable skills and insights that will not only help her to excel in her future career but also better inform her career choice. Personal responsibility, time management and taking initiative are at the top of her list of empowering skills gained.

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“I have learned through this experience that I have a lot more self discipline than I had originally thought. I’m given the freedom to set my own schedule and I’ve learned the importance of sticking to it. To really take control over your own pathway you need to ask questions. By branching out and networking with new people, not only will new opportunities arise but you will have a hands-on experience in your chosen field of study. This has helped me discover whether or not I am actually on the right career path.”

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Unconventional journeys require courage, which Ashley has characterized as “being willing to take a leap of faith.” For students considering a non-traditional school, she shares, “It was definitely a little weird because I was taking an approach to school that I have never taken before. I would just say that you need be willing to try new things because that’s the only way you can grow.” Her advice is, “In order to take control over your own pathway you need to really be invested.”

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Options are important to the GenDIY student. Ashley’s leap of faith is translating into a giant leap ahead of the limited progress she would have made towards her career goals had she remained in her traditional school. “Career Path High helps me meet my goals by giving me the flexibility to finish my high school education while also receiving my certification in Digital Media Art and Technology. I am receiving a strong base and a hands-on experience that will place me at an advantage when I transition into my post secondary education plans.”

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Of course, I wanted to know how Ashley views herself. Does she consider herself a GenDIY student? Her response, “Absolutely! I consider myself a GenDIY student because I am trying something new. By branching outside my comfort zone and trying a different education model than the one I had been in for almost 11 years, I am taking control of my education!”

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GenDIY Profile: Career Path High School

  Robyn Bagley  pic1It’s the first Monday of the month and at Career Path High (CPH) in Kaysville, UT, that means it’s Student Career Series day. This month’s career exploration finds the students visiting the Plumbing Program where, after receiving an overview of the program’s required coursework, training, job outlook, and potential earning power, students experience a hands-on demonstration by the department’s lead instructor. Today they learned that the average starting salary for a trained plumber ranges from $12.00 to $31.01/hr.

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Career exploration at CPH is designed to be meaningful. The Career Series is just one of the many methods we employ to provide our students with the information they need to make the best decision about which career and technical program to pursue. The Series highlights the different Davis Applied Technology College (DATC) Programs through mini workshops that include hands-on activities. Students learn about the skills being taught in the program as well as potential career opportunities. Ninth and Tenth graders are strongly encouraged to attend to assist them with their future selection of a program. Eleventh and Twelfth graders are full-time college students enrolled in a program while simultaneously completing high school.

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Our model is built on the premise that the high school experience can and should be so much more. One of our mantras is “Go to High School, Graduate with a Career!” Our goal is to empower students over their education and pathway. We do it through our flexible blended learning model. We do it through our partnership with a state-of-the-art CTE Institution of Higher Education. At CPH everything is focused on this outcome: Students receive their diploma and their career and technical certification in their chosen field of study upon graduation. Our partnership with the Davis Applied Technology College makes this possible. Our location in the heart of their campus makes it plausible.  pic2We are a charter high school partnered with the Davis Applied Technology College, where there are 30 different career and technical programs for our students to choose from. All 30 are aligned to industry and existing opportunities. Many of the programs provide internships and on the job training. Certain trade skills are in such high demand that a job is nearly guaranteed if you complete the program successfully. During a previous Career Series visit to the medical programs students learned that graduates from the DATC in those programs are in high demand and industry positions can’t be filled as quickly as they arise. Students exiting high school with both their diploma and a certificate from the Applied Technology College are job ready and able to enter the workforce commanding a livable wage. This gives them a monumental advantage over their peers whether they choose to go directly into a career or on to pursue additional higher education.  pic3For students like Ben, he considers Career Path High a once in a lifetime opportunity. Ben is a good student, but the high school experience alone is not enough for him. Ben likes to stay busy, constantly moving and absorbing in an environment that addresses the way he learns best. The flexibility of our blended model along with the hands-on skill building involved in the Composites Program serve him well, keeping him active and on his toes. When CPH students visited the Composites Program for their science cross-curricular project, Ben was tasked as their guide. He could barely contain his enthusiasm and wanted to share every bit of vast knowledge he has attained about the science behind building composite materials. Making his high school experience relevant to real-world application enriches his years spent in high school, but more importantly Ben understands what this Early College experience means to his future and his earning power at a very young age.  pic4The Career Path High model is based on the commitment that every student will graduate with a high school diploma and a pathway to a career through technical certification and college. Our students come to us for a variety of different reasons. They have varying needs and unique learning styles. Our model of blended learning flex combined with Early College presents a wonderful recipe for success for all who want to partake. Ian enrolled in CPH seeking a new opportunity. As an incoming senior he was on a path to leave high school before completion. He was deficit in credits and as a result struggled with mastering content in certain subject areas. His future was uncertain. For Ian, the decision to attend Career Path High empowered him with an opportunity to transform his path. Having an education option like CPH available to him literally changed the trajectory of his life. Our model was well equipped to help Ian with the personalized attention and individualized planning he needed to not only get back on track academically but to graduate with much more than just a diploma. What seemed insurmountable when he arrived became incentivized by the promise of a career and Ian went from being written off to Salutatorian of our inaugural graduating class. Ian holds a special place in my heart. It is the Ian’s of the world who inspire what I do at Career Path High. Our community has exceptional resources, as many do. Which begs the question, why aren’t we better utilizing them to provide our students with legitimate college and career readiness opportunities and skills? We can no longer undervalue the years our students spend in high school. As new education models are emerging, early college career and technical education represents an important opportunity to the high school experience, one that allows students to pave their own pathway. This not only benefits our emerging young adults but also our communities and the employers seeking a skilled workforce. As our nation looks for example career readiness models, programs like Career Path High that offer relevant career certification and job training deserve a double take. About “GenDIY”
Young people are taking control of their own pathway to careers, college and contribution. Powered by digital learning, “GenDIY” is combatting unemployment and the rising costs of earning a degree by seeking alternative pathways to find or create jobs they love. Follow their stories here and on Twitter at #GenDIY. For more on GenDIY, check out:   pic5Robyn Bagley is the School Director of Career Path High School. Follow Robyn on Twitter at @gallagherrobyn.      

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Ellie Northrop

Ellie Northrop I started my high school career in a traditional, brick and mortar district school. By the third term of my sophomore year my attendance was at an all time low and my motivation had pretty much disappeared. With nearly 2,000 students it was difficult for teachers and other school staff to really invest their time and attention, even in those students who needed it most. I needed help finding out who I was and what I wanted to be. I was lost in a sea of other students and unmotivated to push myself further in my education. I began missing classes, and it seemed like the teachers didn’t care. I just wasn’t there and, as a result, I wasn’t able to make up the work and move on. I felt as though I had no control. But all of that changed my junior year when I chose to enroll in Career Path High. That is when my GenDIY journey began.

A Learning Plan that Included Care, Communication and Accountability

At Career Path High everything about the model was so different. They knew who I was and genuinely cared about my academic success. My learning path was catered to me. One difference I instantly loved so much was the great level of investment every student received from the teachers, counselor, and even the principal. High school students need personalized attention and caring and the CPH model was designed to give me that. Communication is at the forefront of everything they do. There is a high level of accountability for everyone. If I ever failed to log in to my classes for a specific period of time or I did not make progress, my teachers and Success Coach were on it! They always checked in and were willing to do what it took to keep me motivated and on track.

Empowered Over My Own Pathway

My school not only looked out for me, it also empowered me. I was never the student that would go above and beyond. Being enrolled in a full-time college program at the same time I was attending high school was not in my plans before I found out about Career Path High, where juniors and seniors are enrolled simultaneously in a Career and Technical Program through the Davis Applied Technology College (DATC). I had no idea which program to choose. Dental Assisting never crossed my mind as a profession, which is really weird because I’ve always been obsessed with teeth. I had previously considered being a nurse, but I hate veins and the thought of drawing blood. As it turned out, the school was doing program tours and brought us to the Dental Assisting room. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do! It was awesome. Why did I never think of this? I’ve always loved teeth and I’ve always cared about them! This early college high school provided an opportunity to find both a career that I love, and also discover the potential that I have as a student and a future employee.

Competency and Hands-On Advanced My Skill Levels

My high school and DATC program were competency-based. I couldn’t move on until I demonstrated a level of mastery. I loved that. Everything was self-paced, so I moved on whenever I was ready. My program was hands-on and my instructors helped me develop the skills that I need for the workplace. I had to demonstrate the skills and couldn’t move forward until I mastered the procedures.

Personalization: Key to My Success

My personalized instruction at Career Path High has been one of the keys to my success. There is no way that I could be a full-time student in my Dental Assisting program without flexibility and a personalized learning plan. At a traditional high school, I would have been forced into seat time and extra courses, but CPH allowed me to focus more on my program skills instead of wasting time on meaningless high school courses simply for the sake of satisfying seat-time requirements. All of my electives and technical course credits required for high school graduation were earned through my DATC program, which is really cool! It was the best of both worlds – a twofer in one fell swoop. I have friends who go to traditional high school and their experience is much different. As we have approached the end of our senior year, they’re only now starting to think about their future. Do they want to go to college? Do they want to go to the DATC? Even now, they’re just beginning a program of study and I’m finishing mine! It’s been an advantage for sure.

Flexibility and the Value of Learning Personal Responsibility

The flexibility of Career Path High’s blended learning model, including my online coursework, really taught me personal responsibility. During my senior year I had to balance work, school, my program, and a personal life on a very tight schedule. My average day was quite busy. It took good time management, but it has all been worth it because I am graduating with only my externships to complete for my Dental Assisting certification. I’ve already had two job offers even before graduating from high school! During my externship as a dental assistant I’ve learned how critical it is to have multitasking skills in order to be successful. I must stay on top of patient care, sanitizing tools, and assisting the front desk. My chosen career field is really fast paced but, I am able to keep up with the demands due largely to the skills learned from my education experiences at Career Path High. I’ve come a long way from that frustrated sophomore unsure of whether or not I would even graduate. As I prepared to give my valedictorian speech for graduation, I realized that my personalized pathway made all the difference. I now have a career that I know I love, and I am pushing myself to compete and expand my potential in ways I never imagined. My high school experience definitely helped shape who I am today. Anytime someone asks how I liked my high school, I have to tell them, “It is the greatest decision I have ever made,” and it is so true! My advice, be a GenDIY student and go out there and take control of your own learning pathway! Today’s students have the opportunities available to them to make their high school experience so much more. About “GenDIY” Young people are taking control of their own pathway to careers, college and contribution. Powered by digital learning, “GenDIY” is combatting unemployment and the rising costs of earning a degree by seeking alternative pathways to find or create jobs they love. Follow their stories here and on Twitter at #GenDIY. For more on GenDIY, check out: Eleanore “Ellie” Northrop graduated from Career Path High with High Honors receiving a Advanced Career Diploma with an Emphasis in Dental Assisting from the School of Health Professions. She is the valedictorian for the Class of 2015 at Career Path High.  

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What it’s Like to Teach GenDIY Students at Career Path High

Jessika Chandler

When I graduated college and began looking for my first teaching job, I was drawn to Career Path High’s blended learning flex model. During my student teaching experience, I became frustrated by the limitations of the traditional classroom. I rarely had the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers, and working one-on-one with students was next to impossible. Logistically, it was difficult to individualize instruction for the diverse learners in my classroom, and I quickly became aware that the traditional school setting was not the ideal learning environment for many of my students. As an English Instructor at Career Path High, I have had quite the opposite experience. Our school’s learning model attracts those seeking a personalized education and a head start down a valuable career path. We have created a school environment that offers flexibility, individualized instruction, and early college opportunities for all types of learners. As a teacher in this model, I feel empowered to help students on an individual basis. Rather than managing full classrooms on a bell schedule, I can work directly with each student through a variety of tools. Instead of being isolated in my own classroom, I collaborate daily with other teachers to create a more cohesive education for our students. The best thing about being an educator at such an innovative school is watching students take ownership of their education and pave their own unique pathway to success!

The Power of Self-Paced, Competency-Based and One-on-One Instruction

In a traditional bricks-and-mortar school, students are expected to learn the material in teacher-mandated timelines. At Career Path High, the blended learning model gives my students the flexibility to work on their courses at their own pace. They can spend as much time as necessary on difficult concepts, receiving personalized assistance from their instructors along the way. Our data-driven curriculum platform allows me to pinpoint the exact areas in which each of my English students are struggling almost instantly. I can easily identify when a student is stuck on a particular activity or assessment, which allows me to reach out and offer individualized assistance. While one student may benefit from curriculum supplements like instructional videos or online flashcards, another may require a live mini-lesson via FaceTime. I have a large variety of online education tools at my disposal, and I love figuring out what works best for each student as I get to know them on an individual level. Career Path High is a competency-education model. Students can only move on in the curriculum when they have proven mastery of the learning objectives, often through individualized assessments. If my students fail a quiz or a test, they cannot continue in the course until I have provided data-directed assistance. I can also give them differentiated assessments based on targeted concepts until I am satisfied they have accomplished mastery. As an instructor at Career Path High teacher intervention is not just a luxury, it’s a requirement. By allowing students to work at their own pace through a competency-based curriculum, we are ensuring that they have the time and resources they need to achieve content mastery and build a strong foundation for their future education.

Much More than Just an Instructor

At Career Path High, I am not just an English Instructor. I also have the opportunity to be a Success Coach. In addition to a regular course load, each instructor at Career Path High is assigned a small group of students to guide throughout the school year. While I closely monitor the progress of my English students on a regular basis, my role as a Success Coach goes even further. I continuously evaluate the overall progress of each student as a whole, and work collaboratively with my colleagues to address their specific learning needs. I also work with each of my Success Coach students to create personalized learning plans. Together, we identify strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and create strategies for achieving academic success. My job at Career Path High is two-fold. As an English Instructor, I teach important literacy skills. As a Success Coach, I help students develop time management and personal responsibility. In both roles, I get to know my students and their learning styles through meaningful interaction. The technology behind our model allows me to frequently communicate with each of my students one-on-one, which gives me a stronger understanding of their unique interests and learning needs. Using a variety of communication tools, I can differentiate both the instruction and the way in which it is delivered. This personalized approach to student-teacher communication regularly informs my teaching practices by helping me identify what learning strategies work best for each student.

Fostering Early College and Career Readiness

One of our mottos at Career Path High is “High school can be so much more!” We believe students can simultaneously earn a high school diploma and become certified in a technical field that is relevant in the current workforce. While our students enroll in programs at the Davis Applied Technology College as Juniors, we start fostering their career interests as Freshmen. Students tour the various DATC programs available to them through a monthly Career Series. Additionally, each core class at Career Path High includes a cross-curricular DATC project. I design the projects for my courses specifically to help students discover the connection between their high school education and possible future career paths. We also encourage student collaboration and educational ownership with project-based learning activities. As an instructor, it is exciting to create projects that take students out of the school setting and into reality. By asking them to work together and interact with members of the college staff, the workforce, and the community, I can encourage them to gain more than just a grade from their coursework. At Career Path High, we strive to enrich our students’ high school education with meaningful, real-world applications.

I Feel Empowered

Perhaps what I love most about being a teacher in a blended learning model is the challenge to be a better educator every day. The model not only empowers our students, it empowers me as a teacher. Because I work with students on such an individual level, my job is never static. I am continuously growing and trying new techniques to help students reach the next level on their unique learning paths. As educators, our input is both valued and sought. Administrators, counselors, and teachers collaborate together as a team regularly. Iteration is the constant. My colleagues and I share best practices in a constant flow of ideas, and we are always working together to tweak the process and create the best possible learning environment for our diverse student body. At Career Path High, we have the unique opportunity to teach more than our respective subjects—we are cultivating student responsibility and educational ownership. We understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to post-secondary education and career opportunities, so we encourage our students to acquire the skills necessary to build their own future in any number of directions. As an educator, there is nothing better than seeing a student find personal success through self-motivation and an intrinsic desire to learn – or in other words, become a GenDIY student!

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About “GenDIY” Young people are taking control of their own pathway to careers, college and contribution. Powered by digital learning, “GenDIY” is combatting unemployment and the rising costs of earning a degree by seeking alternative pathways to find or create jobs they love. Follow their stories here and on Twitter at #GenDIY  

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