Finding the right career choice for every student
By Matt Hillmann, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools
Published in the Northfield News on May 8, 2019.

Northfield Public Schools aspires to prepare every student for lifelong success. We are known for high-quality academics, world-class arts programming, and numerous co-curricular activities that help students develop leadership skills.

We are proud of our strong college preparation programs. Northfield High School students consistently outpace the state average and national averages for the ACT college readiness test, scoring 22.0 on average in 2018 versus 21.3 at the state level and 20.8 across the nation. Eighty-five percent (85%) of the 418 Advanced Placement tests taken at Northfield High School in 2018 resulted in students being eligible for college credit. If you are on track to attend a highly selective four-year college, we have fantastic options for you.

While college readiness is essential for students to have maximum choice following high school; this emphasis can undervalue critical career paths that do not require a four-year college degree. These include the traditional trades as well as numerous 21st-century careers that require specific technical expertise. Students must have adequate exposure to a wide variety of potential career options.

On May 14, students in grades 7, 8, 10 and 12 will have the chance to explore a broad range of business and technical careers at the annual career exploration day at the Northfield Middle School campus. Representatives from local businesses and service providers will give students insight into careers in business and technical fields. Students can interact with large equipment such as snow plows, tractors, race cars, semi-trucks, and school buses. Students will also explore potential career pathways in arts and communication, business and entrepreneurship, engineering and manufacturing, health sciences, human services, and science and technology. They will visit with successful career role models to help inspire them to think differently about their post-high school career choice.

Northfield High School’s career technical education course offerings continue to evolve. While traditional courses in woods, metals, automotive, and accounting are staples of our programs, students can also take engineering, computer programming, robotics, baking and pastries, desktop publishing, and courses about design principles. New classes such as mechatronics offer students access to industry standard technology that will help prepare them to enter the workforce immediately. Partnerships with local service providers allow students to earn a certified nursing assistant credential while still at NHS. Students have had the chance to earn an entry-level boiler license and ServSafe food service manager credentials. A new partnership with Northfield Lines will provide graduating seniors an opportunity to secure a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to enter a career in transportation.

The District’s goal is to prepare each student for their future. We aim to empower students with the academic skills to pursue a four-year degree if they so choose, expose students to a variety of careers, and the support to follow their aspirations. We want to break stereotypes about career choices. After all, there is nothing wrong with a skilled technician who also writes poetry or is an accomplished musician or an artist who has technical skills. As a community, we need to support students and ensure they seek meaningful careers to bring not only financial stability but joy as well.