Wawasee School Board Hears Report On Pathways & Its Impact

In Tuesday’s meeting of the Wawasee School Board, board members and attendees heard from Vince Beasley, director of Pathways, on the current status of the program and the impact it is having on Wawasee High School students.

According to Beasley, 289 students are currently enrolled in Pathways. A cooperative program between Wawasee, Fairfield, West Noble, Goshen and Columbia City high schools, Pathways focuses on ensuring that every participating student receives either dual credit or certification through Ivy Tech in a potential career path.

“We want every student in Pathways to take away something that they can use after graduation,” said Beasley.

In his presentation, Beasley showed a video highlighting Wawasee students and their experiences in Pathways. Additionally, he elaborated on the impact the program has on prospective career paths following graduation and the effectiveness of the program.
Among the points Beasley highlighted was the fact that Career and Technical Education (CTE) students that go through Pathways graduate at a higher rate than non CTE-enrolled students.

“Because the classes are electives they choose, students are more likely to stick it through,” he said.

Open to juniors and seniors, Pathways does not have a GPA requirement for students’ core classes, but it does require them to be on track to graduate. They must also be above-average in terms of attendance.

Beasley also emphasized that Pathways is not only for students who are uninterested in education beyond high school.

“Many people think that CTE classes are for students who are not college bound, but that’s not at all true,” he stated. “We see many, many students go through Pathways who seek additional education after graduating high school, both in college and at trade schools.”
Current programming includes courses in welding, cosmetology, engineering, radio and television, architecture, information and technology and agriculture. Upcoming programming could include criminal justice.

Of particular interest to the board was Pathways’ partnership with PolyWood, which will not only give students experience operating CNC machinery but will also give them the chance to make money during school breaks and after school hours. They will also be primed for immediate hiring upon graduation.

“This is a great chance for students to immediately be able to make a living wage after graduation,” said board president Rebecca Linnemeier.

The board also introduced Randy Carpenter as interim principal at Wawasee Middle School in lieu of the position’s sudden opening after former principal Susan Mishler’s move to Wildman Business Group. Per WCSC superintendent Dr. Tom Edington, Carpenter’s many years in education makes him an excellent choice to fill in.

WCSC will begin advertising for a non-temporary replacement beginning in March.
Joy Goshert’s assistant superintendent position was recently posted due to her impending retirement.

The board also received a $7,000 check from Holly Tuttle from Women of Today to go towards any need WCSC deemed appropriate.

A Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship was offered to WHS art teacher Brian Whirledge. He will spend the summer in Europe studying Byzantine frescoes and other art. He will conclude the fellowship with an intensive two-week internship with a top European artist.

“(Whirledge) is dedicated to what he does,” said WHS principal Geoff Walmer. “Others might think of this offer as just a way to vacation in Europe, but Brian is the kind of guy who can bring that passion back to the classroom.”

In other board news:
• Multiple overnight trips were approved for Wawasee High School.
• The EPIC Superintendents Academy at Butler University was attended by Edington and James Flecker, director of personnel and legal services for WCSC. The academy teaches best practices in strategy development, budgeting and finance, chain management, teambuilding and board relations.
• IHSAA Exemplary Behavior Report – An Exemplary Behavior Report was submitted to IHSAA on WHS cheerleader Nyla White by referee Steve Kline. A double amputee, White is a standout student athlete due to “her perseverance, her dedication and positivity,” said Edington.
•  Per Director of Finance Jim Evans, the 2020 school tax rate is 55 cents.
• A Relay for Life fundraiser, hosted by Wawasee High School students for the American Cancer Society, raised $5,000 on January 31.
• Repairs to the WMS swimming pool ventilation system are nearing completion.
• $25,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the old Syracuse Elementary School building have been used to add funding to the Wawasee Community School Foundation teacher grants, which has not been operational for five years.
• WCSC has begun the process of replacing student and faculty computers. The current computers are nearing the end of their four-year lifecycle.
• Science teacher Mary Bower of WMS was nominated for the Armstrong Educator Award.
• On Jan. 30, a trauma training session was offered to local childcare providers with over 30 attendees. A second training date will be offered in March.