Yorkville School District Y115 staff creating ‘college and career pathways’ curriculum

Yorkville High School Principal David Travis and Assistant Principal Kelley Hren are working on a new curriculum project designed to better prepare students for college and employment. They are seen here on Sept. 12, 2022.

YORKVILLE – The curriculum in Yorkville School District Y115 is undergoing a major overhaul designed to better prepare students for college, trades and employment in the real world.

School district staff members are creating a “college and career pathways” curriculum that will be implemented over the next year.

At Yorkville High School, the program’s framework is being built around seven pathways, or programs of study.

“This has been developed in response to real-world problems,” YHS Principal David Travis said told the Yorkville School Board during a committee meeting Sept. 12 at, appropriately enough, the district’s Center for Innovation.

“We’re real focused on teaching those employability skills,” YHS Assistant Principal of Teaching and Learning Kelley Hren explained to the board.

The pathways include: arts and communications, agriculture, business and finance, health science and technology, human and public services, information technology and manufacturing technology and trades.

“We want students to find their talents, purpose and passion,” Hren said.

Travis outlined plans to expand the partnership the district has with Waubonsee Community College that allows YHS students to gain college credit.

“We want to be creative to get direct credit options for students,” Travis said. “We have to diversify that experience.”

Meanwhile, administrators at Yorkville Middle School are working to transform the curriculum to provide a smooth transition to high school.

“We’re looking for opportunities for choice,” middle school Assistant Principal Meghan Kerr said.

“We want collaboration with the high school to provide those opportunities earlier so students can start exploration earlier,” Kerr said.

Middle school Principal Aubrey Allen said planning is in the works for the possibility of sixth-grade students, who now attend classes at the district’s elementary schools, to be absorbed into the middle school program.

As enrollment in the district continues to grow, Superintendent Tim Shimp has been talking about the need for constructing a second middle school.

All of the district’s elementary and grade schools would become K-5 learning centers, while the sixth-graders would attend the middle school along with the seventh- and eighth-grade classes, Shimp said.

Building a new middle school, likely in the range of $60 million, would require passage of a tax referendum, Shimp said.

Shimp said the pathways program will be reflected in the update curriculum guide expected to be issued in November.

“I think our staff is ready to go,” Shimp said.

High school and college graduates entering the workforce often lack the skills for which employers are looking, school board President Lynn Burks said.

“You’re seeing a skills gap,” Burks said. “This has been well-documented” through employer surveys and other metrics, she said.

Burks is envisioning an academic world in a not-too-distant future in which students work not so much for degrees but a set of accreditations designed to meet specific employment needs and goals.

“You will have a backpack of credentials that you accumulate over time,” Burks said.