Troup County creates ‘Pathways’ to success

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017

LaGRANGE – Middle school students in the Troup County School System may have more class options starting next year.

A new program named Pathways will give seventh and eighth grade students the option to pursue career paths in areas such as technology, health care and agriculture. A similar project has been in place in Troup County high schools for years now, but that program will also be receiving updates with the implementation of the middle school program.

“Beginning last year – reading into the central improvement plan for last year – there was a recognition that we needed to rethink what was occurring in our secondary schools as far as scheduling and course offerings, so last year Dr. Tania Contorno led a group of stakeholders in some beginning research on various scheduling models, various course offerings, and Kitty Crawford as director of exceptional (education) – specifically related to gifted – was part of that team,” said Karen Cagle, assistant superintendent of curriculum instruction and professional learning. “At the end of that timeframe, a lot of interest was generated. However, at that point in time, we weren’t sold on an exact model that we’d seen.”

The process continued into the second year under Dr. Penny Johnson, who developed Pathways. The Troup County School Board hopes the program will provide enhanced career development opportunities.

“We wanted to create a comprehensive secondary plan that takes into account the needs of our middle and high school students,” Johnson said. “We want our middle schoolers to be open to personal discovery and the opportunities that are available to them, and our high schoolers to work on career development and preparation. The ultimate goal is to increase our students’ post-secondary marketability as they exit our secondary program, and so the focus of the initiatives that we have looked at center around the notion that our learning experience needed to be authentic and purposeful.”

“We want to make sure that our students are knowledgeable about themselves, their interests and their abilities, and we want to make sure that they are college and career ready with a focus on our local pipeline to business.”

The programs available will be based on needs identified by local businesses as well as the interests expressed by students who took a series of surveys used to help develop the program.

“We are moving forward with the notion that our students will be declaring pathways for the future,” Johnson said. “They are going to purposefully and deliberately consider their post-secondary goals in the declaration of their pathway. Consideration needs to be given for different pathway areas. One is advanced academics. One is CTAE (Career, Technical and Agriculture Education) type pathways. The third is fine arts pathways, and the fourth is world language pathways.”

Not every school will have every type of pathway, but Johnson’s team has attempted to make the pathways available at the schools with the most demand. However, the school board is looking at options to make pathways available to students at schools that do not provide a student’s preferred pathway.

“One of the enhanced budget requests that we’ve made is to make those pathways available to all students by providing transportation if a pathway is not offered on one campus, but is offered on another,” Johnson said. “One of the examples that I could use is our JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program currently is offered on the Callaway (High School) campus and the Troup High (School) campus, and currently if a LaGrange High (School) student was interested in completing that pathway, they would request to enroll in a different school through the hardship process, and it would be granted. Instead, we are looking to provide transportation shuttle – just like THINC – where a student at LaGrange High could in fact go over and take a JROTC pathway with transportation, provided if there is enough demand.”

These pathways will be in addition to online college courses that students will be able to take as well as partnerships with businesses to provide mentors to students.

Middle school and high school students are currently in the process of talking to counselors about possible pathways this week, and the program is expected to start in August.

“This is kind of a fast track pace, but it sounds like you have a plan for that,” said school board Member Joe Franklin.

Parents are encouraged to learn more about Pathways at, or by contacting the counselors at their child’s school. Businesses interested in partnering with students for their capstone requirement should contact Yolanda Stephens at 706-812-7900, Ext. 127.