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Guilford County Schools Expands Workforce Development Pathway

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Guilford County Schools Expands Workforce Development Pathway

Programs at Jackson Middle and Southeast High Bridge Workforce Development and Alignment Across the K-12 Continuum  

By Gabrielle Brown

April 2, 2024 – Guilford County Schools (GCS) continues its forward trajectory of being a leader in education innovation by enhancing its robust catalog of choice schools and programs for students.

Today, the district announced a partnership with Driving Possibilities, an initiative of Toyota, to create consistent project-based pathways with real-world applications at Jackson Middle and Southeast High. The Toyota USA Foundation is providing $1.5m for the creation and expansion of hands-on STEM learning at both schools.

Funds will also be used towards opening a new Signature Career Academy for Advanced Manufacturing at Southeast High. The Guilford County Board of Education approved the Advanced Career and Technical Education (CTE) program back in 2019 to support the district’s strategic plan goal to increase the number of graduating seniors who complete a rigorous career pathway.

The program will be similar to the program at Smith High, which provides an immersive experience into the world of Advanced Manufacturing by bringing industry into the classroom. Business partners, mentors, colleges and other industry leaders will work with students to ensure they have the skills they need to lead and succeed in the global talent pool.

“Education and industry leaders agree that career exploration should begin earlier, and students need more choices in career-specific fields of study before high school,” Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley said. “We are grateful for our partnership with Toyota to create a unique opportunity for students to explore high-wage careers earlier, allowing them to be on the frontlines, setting the bar for the local talent pool and ultimately eliminating the cycle of poverty for some students.”

The new programs honor the district’s commitment to align academic programming for all three school levels – elementary, middle and high school – to provide families with clear pathways for students to explore and matriculate throughout the K-12 continuum. The historic program at Foust Elementary Gaming and Robotics will lay the foundational skills students can expand upon at either Jackson Middle, Southeast High or Smith High. 

Representative Kathy Manning recently secured $850,000 in federal dollars that will also be used towards renovating and upfitting a building on Southeast’s campus. The facility will provide access for both Southeast Middle and High School students to explore the advanced manufacturing field.

GCS is currently developing the course pathways for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering at Southeast. Students can begin taking courses in the fall and will transition into the new space once renovations are complete.