Students learn about medical technology in the Pathways program. (Courtesy photo)

Hands on learning prepares students for college and careers

Constructing a meditation pavilion to provide a space for students to engage in reflection and respite. Visiting McLaren Park weekly to remove non-native plants, and install native species in their place. Studying and practicing EMT skills of human anatomy, physiology and emergency medicine.

No, I’m not talking about the activities of graduate students or trades people. I’m describing projects that public high school students in San Francisco are engaged in right now as part of the more than 40 College and Career Pathways offered on San Francisco Unified School District high school campuses.

By the time they graduate from high school, we want each and every student to be college and career ready, and on a path to pursuing their dreams and living up to their full potential.

How do we help students reach their ambitions?

Across 13 of the SFUSD high school campuses, there are nearly 4,000 students enrolled in College and Career Pathways. This means that throughout our schools, students are learning architecture and engineering, biotechnology, building and construction, health science, culinary arts, game design, digital communications, media arts, and environmental science — just to name a few.

Students in the San Francisco Unified School District learn about medical technology as part of the Career Pathways program. (Courtesy photo)

Pathways offer a multi-year course sequence with an emphasis in one career sector. Students hone their industry-related skills, while also gaining experience in collaboration, networking, project management and critical thinking. And let’s be clear, this is our Vision 2025 in action. This is what we want for ALL of our students, preparing them to succeed in college and an ever-changing world of careers, while serving as innovators and change-makers in our community.

Not only are students learning every day at school, but as part of these pathways, they also participate in real-world, project-based opportunities like internships, apprenticeships, volunteer opportunities, and field trips, using San Francisco as the classroom. In a win-win, these programs are also aligned with local workforce needs.

Last week, students and teachers presented their work at an annual showcase. SFUSD teachers, families and community members flocked to learn about students’ experiences with projects like learning code as part of the Digital Communications Pathway, and growing ingredients to cook food that reflects different cultures.

No matter what career path they want to pursue, we know there is something for everyone at our SFUSD high schools.

Each pathway is unique in its own way, and we encourage students and their families — particularly those in middle school who are thinking about where they might go to high school — to remember these pathways as they consider their futures.

Want to learn more about our pathways? Visit the SFUSD College and Career Pathways website.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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