CASPER, Wyo. — Both Natrona County and Kelly Walsh High School have substantially more students taking classes at Pathways Innovation Center this school year compared with the 2018-2019 year.
KW Principal Mike Britt says that last year, only 80 KW students took classes at PIC, but that this year they are on track to send 230 students over.
NC Principal Shannon Harris told the Natrona County School District Board of Trustees on Monday, Nov. 25 that she had data for the number of courses NCHS students had enrolled in at PIC rather than the exact number of students.
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In the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year NC students took 111 courses at Pathways. That jumped to 255 in the first semester of this school year.
Harris added that NC students enrolled in only 63 PIC classes during the second semester in 2018-2019 but that NC students have enrolled in 291 courses for the second semester this year.
Both Britt and Harris said that flexibility in scheduling was one reason for the uptick in participation at PIC.
An earlier start at PIC has allowed students to work time into their schedule for courses they are interested in, which Harris said prevented some students from taking such classes last year.
The district’s transportation officials have also been flexible with their scheduling to allow both high schools to send more students to Pathways.
Britt said that KW is hoping to bring back early childhood education course options next semester through their collaboration with PIC. He said that students are interested in the possibility.
KW will also be sending teachers to Pathways to teach sculpture and photography courses.
“We’ve made it work and got really good feedback from our current students,” Britt said of the enhanced collaboration between Pathways and KW.
Harris said that having more NC teachers offer courses at PIC partially explains why more NC students are heading over for some classes.
Adding new courses on topics such as animation and aviation drone robotics has also enticed more students, she said.
Harris added that popular classes include things like cybersecurity and child development. NC is hoping to facilitate a Child Development II course at PIC next year.
“This is by far the best year,” Harris said. “The feeling is different. It is such a positive place. I feel like it is going in a really great direction.”
“It’s been a lot of Pathways teachers and Natrona teachers being very flexible.”
NCSD Associate Superintendent Walt Wilcox added that Midwest High School will likely be sending a few students to take courses at PIC next semester.
Trustee Clark Jensen asked whether career and technical education courses at PIC are full.
“Full and overfull,” Harris said. “There’s not one program out there this year that’s not way above last year.”