Farmington Schools trustees got a first look Tuesday at career-oriented courses proposed for the 2021-22 school year.
Career Innovation Coordinator Melanie Nowak, who joined the district this year, outlined cybersecurity and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) courses that will give students a leg up on their post-secondary plans.
Cybersecurity pilot program
Nowak said the cybersecurity course, now offered as a pilot, drew interest from 95 students in April of 2019. The district offered one section at each high school, with 22 students at Farmington High and 26 at North Farmington High.
The one-year course, taught in four units, gives students an opportunity to test what they learn in a safe setting. They can also earn college credits or certifications in Microsoft, CISCO, and Project Lead The Way, as well as exchange credits for math and science requirements.
Students also compete in CyberPatriot CTSO (Career and Technical Student Organization) events. This year, they received silver and gold awards, Nowak said.
“If this gets approved by the board… it can be expanded into multiple sections, depending on what can fit into the schedule with our personnel,” she added.
EMT course a ‘steppingstone’
Nowak described the year-long EMT course as a “steppingstone for anyone going into medical field.” The district currently offers Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certification. Seniors will get preference for the EMT course, because students must be 18 to receive a license, she said.
Farmington High teacher Kristen Patton arranged for a partnership with Superior EMS that will give students opportunities for hands-on experience, Nowak said. The company, which has more than 80 positions open in Oakland County, agreed to sponsor paramedic training for EMTs who complete a year of employment.
Patton is also working on partnerships with Farmington Hills Fire Department and Farmington Public Safety Department, Nowak said.
Trustees were generally supportive of the courses, which come up for approval at their next meeting. Board president Terri Weems said she wanted to know how the district developed an understanding of careers in high demand.
Make sure credentials mean something
“I want to make sure we’re connecting students to future jobs and creating career pathways,” she said. “It’s important for credentials to mean something.”
Weems also asked about costs and whether a review was done of high-demand, growth industries “not just for today, but five years from now.”
Nowak said teacher Jason Canfield has done “extensive research” on demand not only in Michigan, but across the nation. She said neither program will increase costs.
Trustee Donald Walker pointed out that career and technical education (CTE) programs have advisory boards. He sits on the TV-10 and cybersecurity program boards.
“You have your business professionals come in, analyze your program, and recommend updates based on current industry trends,” he said.
Trustees are expected to vote on the courses during their February 23 meeting.