Necessary Career Pathways Arrive at Griffith


Meghan Braddy, Copy Editor

The year of 2020 brought many new changes to the Griffith Public Schools corporation. Between new teachers, new principals, a shutdown of an elementary school, and inviting sixth graders to join the Middle School, there have been a lot of changes over the course of the pandemic that have left mixed reviews among various members of the community. At Griffith High School, the most significant change has been the introduction of career pathways to help guide students to hopefully pursue their dream career in the future. Influenced by the routines of other schools in the county, Griffith High School hopped on the bandwagon with hope that these new pathways would leave students a little less confused about their plans after they graduate. With these new pathways come new classes to correlate with the specific subject students want to specialize in this school year.

Some of the pathways Griffith High School is offering this school year are culinary arts, computer science, fashion textiles and designs, education professions, human and social services, medical assistant, auto service tech, collision and refinishing tech, computer info tech, construction tech, cosmetology, culinary arts and hospitality management, dental assisting, early childhood education, electrical and mechanical engineering tech, graphic arts and digital imaging, health science careers, multimedia broadcast academy, and welding technology. While most of these pathways require students to attend the Hammond Area Career Center for half of their school day so they can have the necessary resources needed to learn more about the certain career they’re interested in, some of these pathways have the required classes being taught at Griffith High School in departments such as the FACS department and the business and technology department. One of the more exciting aspects of this school year for teachers and students alike was the chance to experience a new class that Griffith High School hasn’t offered before. With new classes come new curriculums, projects, assignments, and new chances to interest this generation of students in a specific field of work.

The teachers have the biggest challenge this year of taking on new classes so their students can learn more and more about the real world. This couldn’t be anymore true for Social Studies and newly promoted FACS department teacher, Jenna Parker. Parker has always been heavily interested in the well-being of her students, which is why she decided to switch gears this year and take on two new classes: Interpersonal Relationships and Adult Roles and Responsibilities. These classes are the foundations of the FACS department pathways which are Education, Human and Social Services, and Culinary. They are necessary for students wanting to pursue a career where they are able to use the skills they’ve learned in class and apply them to be useful throughout their whole lives. Examples of careers students could pursue in these pathways are restaurant owners, teachers, and social workers.

“This is my first year teaching these courses and while it’s a bit of a challenge at first, I am excited to explore new content in a different field,” said Parker. “I enjoy meeting and engaging with my students, and I still see familiar ones throughout the day, too. I am excited to teach curriculum that helps students learn to express themselves, deal with stress, budget, understand how a mortgage works, and how to plan for a marriage and family.”

Another popular department introducing new classes and new pathways this school year is the business and technology department. The only teachers within this department are long-time business and computer science teacher, Nick Zivanovic, and newly hired middle school robotics teacher, Heather Clarkson. This year, Zivanovic is also taking on new classes, but unlike Parker, they are more within this field of study. The new classes being taught by Mr. Z this year are Marketing and Computer Science II, along with the Intro to To Business class that was brought back last school year after being absent from school schedules for quite sometime.
Although these classes are the fundamentals of the business and computer science pathways, they are both vastly different.

Zivanovic said, “Computer Science II is a second year class of python programming and cyber security, which is more enjoyable to the students because they already have a foundation and get to play more. I like to describe it by the saying “move fast and break things”, because you’re trying new things in software and moving away from block based stuff and into Java Script, which ends up being more challenging. In Marketing, my students will have to complete a project where they will be able to create a business idea and a business plan in order to market it to the class.”

Examples of the careers students can pursue by taking classes in the business and technology pathways are software developers, management consultants, an advertising manager, and many more. A large majority of students signed up for classes in these pathways this year because they are universal classes that everyone should take at least once in their lives in order to help them be prepared for going to college in general. Zivanovic and Clarkson are two of many teachers who can both agree that pathways are a necessity, especially if their students are pursuing careers within business or technology. The workforce is the most demanding in these areas, so it’s good for students to have lots and lots of career options when considering demanding pathways such as these.

“Kids aren’t coming into the workforce prepared,” said Zivanovic. “Employers tell schools that they need to enforce pathways, because kids don’t have the necessary skills, especially personal and professional communication. Employers say that kids aren’t prepared, which is why pathways are good overall. They make you think about what you’re interested in and gives you a roadmap so you can be successful as a working adult.”

Pathways are designed for the purpose of giving students the direction needed to fulfill their educational aspirations. Most students are stressed out come senior year, because they have no idea where to go next. Griffith aims to decrease the amount of undecided graduates this year and increase the number of students fully knowing what they are going to study for the next four years or more. The standard that is set in high school is that you should already know all of these things, which is why the best part about the pathway initiative Griffith High School is using this year is the fact that with each pathway, the career options are endless. Every student can take a wide majority of different classes with different curriculums in order to experience many different subject areas to discover their career interests. The only way to get kids to start thinking about their options is to provide them with the necessary steps needed to get there.