Career Start offers new avenue for Federal Way students with technical/vocational goals
By GREG ALLMAIN
Federal Way Mirror reporter
August 29, 2012 · 3:16 PM
Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) and Highline Community College (HCC) have teamed up for an innovative program known as Career Start.
The program, which is the first of its kind in the state, takes the idea of Running Start and applies it to more technical/vocational aims for the students who are interested in those fields.
"These programs are for students who have another pathway," said Nancy Hawkins, Director of Career and Technical Education for FWPS. "They know what they want to do. They want a career in a field that perhaps only requires a two-year degree. That's what this is designed to do."
Terry Farris, a consultant for Highline and the person responsible for the program on the college's end, echoed Hawkins' statement. Farris cited his long experience in education and how he often saw students who were simply present, but not really engaged, in high school.
"As an educator for all these years, I've known so many good students, good kids, that are kind of going through the motions," Farris said. "Some of them are not really connected to the high school experience, but they've got a lot to offer. And they're ready for a change in their learning environment, they're ready to step into a more adult, demanding world and to move forward."
"A novel concept: a high school student who's ready for the world of work," he added.
The Career Start Program offers courses in everything from administrative management, to medical assisting, to visual communications. In total, the program is now offering 13 different tracks for students to pursue.
Like Running Start, the tuition for students is free. The idea is that students take these courses concurrently with their regular high school courses, and receive an Associate of Applied Science degree either at the time of their high school graduation, or shortly thereafter.
For Hawkins, this program is another example of the Federal Way district's attempt to provide as many choices as possible for students.
"This just increases the choices for students to meet their goals, find their pathway, and complete it, in as an efficient and timely manner as possible," she said.
Another consideration that shaped the formation of the Career Start program was the prevalence of the idea that all students should attend a four-year college. To Hawkins and FWPS, that's something of a myopic view — a view that disregards the well-paying and satisfying careers that can be found in the vocational and technical fields.
"I think in our country, the pendulum has swayed way too far to the side where when we say 'college for all,' what most people think is a four-year university for all," Hawkins said. "What we really mean, what we really want, is post-high school training for all, whatever that may mean. Whether it's a one-year program, or two-year program, an internship, or on-the-job-training, I think this is going to open up our thinking and shine a spotlight on some of those programs."
Farris said that because of the nature of the program, he doesn't expect large numbers of students to apply, but feels that those who do will be in the right place.
"I don't think the numbers will ever be that large, but I would like to see, within two years, maybe 30 to 50 students involved in this program," he said. "It's my hope that it provides students an avenue where they can go about starting their lives."
Incoming juniors at FWPS high schools are welcome to apply to the program by visiting careerstart.highline.edu or by calling (206) 878-3710, ext. 3976, 3394, or 3359.Contact Federal Way Mirror reporter Greg Allmain at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-925-5565 ext. 5054.