Crothersville offers students several pathways to graduation



Three students are on three different paths.

One wants to find a welding job right out of high school, so he’s taking courses to earn a national welding certification.

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Another one wants to save time and money once she gets to college, so she’s enrolled in an early college program and will have an associate degree in general studies before she receives her high school diploma.

The third student wants a job in construction trades, so he’s enrolled in courses to learn all he needs to know.

At Crothersville High School, these are examples of graduation pathways available to students.

Indiana is beginning to put an emphasis on those pathways, but Crothersville is ahead of the game because the programming has been in place for several years.

Principal Adam Robinson said Superintendent Terry Goodin realized education is no longer “one size fits all,” where students go to school, take certain classes to graduate and move on.

“The kids have to be prepared for what they want to go into,” Robinson said. “We’re going to model what’s going to be best for the student, not what’s best for the school. We’re not going to look at everybody as one entity.”

Goodin also knows being a small school, Crothersville has to do what others are doing and more. That way, students will either remain there or be drawn to go to Crothersville because of what it offers.

“What he has been able to do is offer what a regular high school diploma is, but he doesn’t think of it as the final end note,” Robinson said. “The rest of the state is catching on. They are realizing it takes two pieces of paper to make it now. There’s no longer just your diploma. You need your diploma plus what?”

Robinson introduces the three graduation pathways to students when they are in eighth grade.

They can take Algebra 1 that transfers to high school credits to start working toward an associate degree through the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative.

“If they wait until freshman year, they can still do it, but it’s much harder because they have to get Core 40 classes in and dual-credit classes,” Robinson said.

They also go up to C4 Columbus Area Career Connection to tour the facility and learn about all of the programs offered there.

After Robinson meets with groups of students, guidance counselor Tim Crane works with them on an individual basis to keep them on the appropriate graduation pathway.

“We want kids, when they graduate from Crothersville, they are two years ahead no matter what field they go into,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t mean that our kids have to start deciding what they want to do earlier, but it doesn’t lock them in.”

For example, everything was going well for a junior enrolled in the C4 nursing program until she drew blood one day in class and nearly passed out.

“She was like, ‘I can’t do this. I’ve just wasted a year,’” Robinson said. “I said, ‘No, you just saved yourself thousands of dollars because you decided in high school that’s not the career for you.’ Now, she’s in early childhood education. C4 worked with us to switch her classes around, and she absolutely loves it.

“I think finding out you don’t like something at this young of an age is just as important as finding out that, ‘Yes, I picked the career I want’ so you don’t end up being a senior in college costing you $50,000 a year to do so,” he said.

For about five years, Crothersville students have been able to take welding courses through Ivy Tech Community College at Mid-America Science Park in Scottsburg.

Upon successfully completing the two-year program, a student earns a national welding certification.

“I think a lot of schools offer welding, but it’s like you have to stay local, and then you can earn your national (certification). The one that we have, they can graduate and move (on to a job),” he said.

Robinson said certified welders can earn up to a six-figure paycheck out of high school.

“Our welders are graduating certified to go anywhere and weld not just in Crothersville, they can go to India and weld,” Robinson said. “They are certified in every certification they need and without spending two years (after high school) to gain that.”

In the past six years of the early college program, 47 Crothersville students taken college-level classes and earned an associate degree in general studies from Ivy Tech.

By doing so, they spend a year or two less and save tens of thousands of dollars in earning a higher college degree.

This school year, 10 sophomores, 11 juniors and nine seniors are enrolled in the program.

C4 has been available to Crothersville students for more than 40 years.

Programs include law enforcement, culinary arts, construction trades, welding, automotive, nursing, veterinary technician, telecommunications and more.

“The last time I was there, I was blown away with just the courses that they can take and the offerings they have,” Robinson said.

Crothersville averages sending 20 juniors and seniors to C4 for classes, but Robinson said he is meeting with the director to discuss allowing sophomores to enroll starting in the 2019-20 school year.

That’s so they can do an internship their senior year, which is another initiative Robinson said is in the planning stages with C4.

The school corporation received approval from the Coalition of Continuous Improvement School Districts and the school board to offer two new classes this school year.

CCISD allows districts to issue a teacher’s license to qualified individuals. Instead of applying for an emergency license from the state and waiting several weeks to get it, the corporation can certify them to teach the course, Goodin said.

Linda Myers is teaching college and career readiness, and Cheryl Nehrt is teaching analytical algebra.

In Myers’ class, students find out who they are as a person and what they want to do for a career and develop leadership skills.

“The first semester was all about them as a person — how do they maintain a motivational level to keep grades up, striving to do better in academics and sports, how do you get along with people at home,” Myers said. “We really, really, really are focusing on them as a person and how they can be the best individual, the best worker, the best of themselves.”

There also are three themed days. On Motivational Monday, each student finds a quote that inspires them. Their classmates write the quotes down in their composition books and jot down how that’s going to inspire them that week.

On What’s Happening Wednesday, the class researches current events and tells how a leader influences a particular situation. Then on Fun Friday, they do an activity to help them learn how to cooperate with others.

The class also is working on speeches, writing résumés and cover letters and investigating careers.

Sophomores Jerrica Barron, Olivia Robinson and Jacob Moeller are among the 11 students in the class.

Barron said the class helps with public speaking and preparing for college.

“Now, it makes me hope better for my future and actually plan toward my future rather than just winging it,” she said.

Robinson said she likes Fun Friday because she can build skills that will help her in the future.

“We do games and things that teach you how to work as a group, and it shows you how someone usually steps up to be a leader,” she said.

Moeller said Myers’ class helps take away the fear of public speaking that many people have.

“Once you get out of high school, there are going to be a lot of jobs where you’re going to have to go up and do interviews and things like that, and it’s better to have gotten used to speaking out to groups,” he said. “It would make it less nerve-racking and make it a lot easier and a lot smoother.”

Nehrt also has 11 students in her class. A few of the students are in the welding program, while others are enrolled in mechanic and construction courses.

Robinson had talked to local employers to find out what students needed to know mathematically to do those types of jobs, and then he obtained a carpenters union book for the students to use as a guide.

The students do a lot of hands-on activities, including measuring and building, to practice skills they might have to do on the job.

“I try to do things where they have to figure it out,” Nehrt said. “I think it gets them more prepared for a trade or a career that they might have when they get out than maybe some traditional math classes. Once they get a little confidence in what they are doing, it has been really good.”

Nehrt said she has learned a lot from the students about their chosen career paths.

“I explain to them I might be good at math, but they are all good at something that I don’t know,” she said. “We’ve kind of helped each other, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Robinson said the goal is to have professionals come in to teach other courses, including a commercial driver’s license program and carpenters union classes. He is looking into the cost and ensuring the classes can be facilitated at Crothersville.

With all of the graduation pathways offered, Robinson hopes parents send their children to Crothersville to take advantage of the opportunities.

“I would say I inherited a gem,” he said. “This is built on the work of my superintendent and past principal (David Schill). They’ve done a good job. I’ve just tried to expand it as much as I can and not get in the way of the ball that’s rolling.”

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For information about the graduation pathways at Crothersville High School, call 812-793-2051.


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