Grant will help Hopkins Academy students chart career pathways

  • The entrance to Hopkins Academy in Hadley. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/5/2019 11:44:09 AM

HADLEY — Within the next year, Hopkins Academy students will have the opportunity to take a series of courses that better connect their learning to their postsecondary plans, whether going to college or entering the workforce.

Hadley’s high school recently received a $15,000 Innovation Pathways planning grant from the state, one of 21 secondary schools receiving such grants to develop programs that aim to give students both knowledge and internship experiences in growing industries in Massachusetts.

For Hopkins students, Superintendent Anne McKenzie said the pathways will focus on business and finance, as well as environmental and life sciences.

“Innovation Pathways is a way in which the state is allocating resources to encourage secondary school districts about how you can organize coursework for the labor market and postsecondary opportunities,” McKenzie said.

Although Hopkins already has robust courses in business and finance and environmental and life sciences, this initiative is about delineating a course sequence for career exploration.

“Our goals reflect what I believe are the overarching goals of the state — deep learning experiences and building networks,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said Hopkins is using the Pioneer Valley Labor Market Blueprint, developed in part by the two Regional Employment Boards of Franklin and Hampshire counties and Hampden County, that identified priority industries and priority occupations. This will ensure students and their families have information about the potential high-demand, high-wage labor opportunities.

The 21 schools awarded grants will be eligible for official designation from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education next spring.

“Innovation Pathways are designed to engage students who are trying to discover what the next steps in their future careers are and help them succeed through college-level courses and internships,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.​​​​​​

Launched in 2017, Innovation Pathways gives students experience in specific high-demand industries through coursework and internships at local employers. Students earn college credits, at no cost to them, and gain insight as to whether the field is something they want to pursue in college or as a career. Industry sectors include manufacturing, information technology, environmental and life sciences, health care and social assistance, and business and finance.

Within five years, McKenzie said, the hope is to give every Hopkins student the chance to participate in Innovation Pathways or early college, another program in which the school is partnering with Greenfield Community College.

Schools that apply for designation for an Innovation Pathways are required to follow five design principles: equitable access for all students; a guided academic pathway, which must relate to one of five specified broad industry sectors; enhanced student supports; relevant connections to careers; and deep partnerships between high schools and employers or workforce development boards.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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