All school district superintendents and boards met as one group.  The topic? A county-wide program to advance career education and exploration for high school students.

Task forces discussed the variables of a county-wide Career Advanced Placement Center (CAPS)-type programs in our community by conducting site visits from successful CAPS programs in the St. Louis Metro and Kansas City area.

The Wentzville School District, plans to begin their “Ignite” Program this fall for the 2017-2018 school year, agrees it would be beneficial to make this a county-wide program.    Orchard Farm and St. Charles School Districts are also conducting a joint-pilot program this fall, with plans of full implementation in the 2018-2019.

A CAPS Program provides for students who apply and fulfill stated criteria to select a “strand” (or “thread”) of study such as healthcare, business, technology (IT), as offered.  Typically, students spend one semester learning about their chosen field, preparing to “work” in an actual place of business, such as a hospital; learning about proper conduct, “employer” expectations, background information needed on-site, etc.  In the second semester, the student is onsite for a designated amount of class time daily, learning hands-on about their field of study as they fulfill an actual need requested by the place of business.

This method of learning has proven successful in programs such as the Northlands CAPS in North Kansas City, providing for students to further confirm their interest in higher education in a particular field, or a different career is preferred, making this decision before graduating high school.  The program is open to high school juniors and seniors.

The next steps necessary to form a county-wide program is currently being explored by all school districts and their respective boards.