The Midlothian Independent School District (MISD) understands that connecting students to careers is critical to building a workforce pipeline. The district is doing exactly that through its robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.
In fact, during the school year, MISD students are:
- … exploring the challenges facing information security professionals related to ethics, system security, network security, and application security. They are conducting risk assessments and developing and implementing security policies to mitigate those risks, while also examining trends in cyberattacks, common vulnerabilities, and cyber terrorism. Most importantly, they are earning lucrative Cisco certifications.
- … diving into the process behind designing, building and maintaining roads, bridges, canals, airports, and railways. Additionally, students are learning how to create engineering drawings with 3D software to devise solutions for everyday challenges.
- … learning the principles necessary to start and operate a business. This is achieved through researching and analyzing a business opportunity, preparing a business plan, developing a strategy to organize and promote the business, and, ultimately, developing a prototype.
MISD CTE offers students courses in 13 of the 14 Programs of Study defined by the Texas Education Agency. Currently, MISD students can take courses in 24 pathways which include the three above as well as Aerospace Engineering, Agriculture Mechanics, Automotive, Biomedical Science, Construction, Law Enforcement, and Information Technology, to name a few.
To propel this program forward, the district is in the process of renovating the former J.R. Irvin elementary school into the Midlothian Innovative Learning Experience (MILE) campus. This state-of-the-art educational hub will provide flexible learning environments that reflect current industry and workplace environments. The structure of coursework will allow for business and industry partners to serve as mentors and curriculum experts directly from the field, thereby infusing real-world authenticity into the program.
Through quarterly breakfast meetings, MISD presentations to the business community, and collaborations with nearby Navarro College and Texas State Technical College, Midlothian Economic Development (MED) and MISD are helping to forge partnerships with the local business community to help reinforce MISD’s CTE program.
Those connections with the local manufacturing industry led to the creation of the Midlothian Workforce/Careers Scholarship Fund.
In partnership with local industry, MED is providing funds to the TSTC Foundation’s Texan Success Scholarship to benefit TSTC students from Midlothian or from within MISD boundaries. Collaborations such as this are helping employers address shifting skill needs by empowering students with skills for tomorrow’s professional landscape.
There is a critical need for a “middle skills” workforce for jobs which fall between low-skill jobs, which call for a high school diploma or less, and high-skill jobs, which require a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Midlothian ISD is taking proactive steps to keep pace with changing times while building a talent pipeline that will meet the needs of area businesses and ensure economic success.
Nikki Nix, MISD’s director of secondary learning, and Shelle Blaylock, administrator of the MILE, say that the MILE’s flexible learning environment will be key to MISD’s mission for technical education.
“We want to provide students the opportunity to partner with real-world business and industry here locally, across our region, and across the world virtually,” Nix told a roomful of business leaders at a recent MISD CTE breakfast presentation.
Nix said that students must learn to think critically and apply knowledge in different ways.
“We have to do school differently than we have done in the past, and we have to provide opportunities for students where they’re challenged to think differently, ideate differently, and problem solve differently,” she said.
When meeting with architects to plan the renovation of the MILE, MISD officials were asked, “What will this space look like?”
Nix recalled her answer: “All I can tell you is it doesn’t look like school, it doesn’t feel like school, it doesn’t have desks in rows, it doesn’t have any feeling of school when you walk into it.”
As the MILE comes to fruition, it exhibits a professional, corporate feel with flexible learning spaces that can be adapted to various situations.
“In whatever we are doing for the students, it has to be flexible,” said Nix. “Roughly 85 percent of the jobs that will exist by 2030 aren’t in existence yet, and we don’t know what skills we’re going to need to meet the demands for those jobs. Whatever we’re doing has to be flexible so we can change, shift, evolve, and innovate as we grow and prepare students for the workforce.”
To learn how you or your company can partner with MISD’s CTE program through mentoring, internships, guest speaking, and more, contact Midlothian Economic Development at (972) 723-3800 or email@example.com.