For a high school student with an idea for what they want their career to look like, the pathway to that point can be challenging.
With limited resources from educators and the challenges of navigating college and trade school searches, it is easy for a student to become overwhelmed by the various options in front of them.
That student has an extra choice locally, as Pathways 2 Tomorrow(P2T) is a program designed to get students out of normal classroom settings and into the welding shop or onto the construction site.
Classes are officially underway for students on their ‘pathways’, which can be anything from welding, commercial driving, computer sciences and more.
Students are transported from schools to P2Ts location in West Point.
Founded by Education Services Unit #2, P2T gives students from eight northeast Nebraska school districts a chance to take advantage of expanded education opportunities and resources.
Districts involved in the consortium include West Point-Beemer, Wisner-Pilger, Bancroft-Rosalie, Oakland-Craig, Lyons-Decatur NE, Pender, Emerson-Hubbard and Howells-Dodge.
Guardian Angels Central Catholic students can also take P2T classes because they are part of the WPPS district.
Joe Peitzmeier, director of the program, said while total enrollment changes, there are right at 124 students taking advantage of the programs’ resources.
“We stretch over multiple counties, and the last enrollment number I saw was 124,” Peitzmeier said. “I feel really good about it.”
He noted that this year P2T added welding and CDL (Commercial Driving License) and that adding those two programs helped enrollment.
“I know we have about 36 students in welding, 50 in health science, 20 in computer science, 15 in building construction, and education has about 15,” Peitzmeier said. “Big numbers in all of our programs.”
Educators in the program include adjuncts, Northeast Community College staff, and P2T staff.
As the program continues to grow, Peitzmeier said the goals of P2T have stayed consistent from the beginning.
“We want to continue to offer robust opportunities for kids they can’t get at their schools that can’t offer these types of programs,” he said. “(P2T) meets an interest the school couldn’t fulfill.”
Many of the machines used by P2T are expensive and would be difficult for a single school to purchase.
Peitzmeier said students who have taken part in the program are generally positive about the experience because they are getting a chance to work in fields they enjoy.
“We had an open house last Wednesday and had students come through, and after one week of classes it seemed they were excited about it,” Peitzmeier said.
There are challenges for students though, as Peitzmeier pointed out. One of them is the significant time commitment.
“The biggest challenge we have is getting students to be able to be here three periods a day,” Peitzmeier said. “We keep trying to put programs together that kids are interested in so they can see the value in going there and getting something extra in their day.”
Peitzmeier said much of this effort comes from communicating with administration and guidance staff of schools involved in the P2T program, with meetings happening on a regular basis between all parties.
This is a challenge Peitzmeier accepts. He said the program is always looking for new students to become involved.
Only a few days into a new school year, Peitzmeier said he is feeling pretty good about the work P2T has done so far.
High school students interested in getting involved with the Pathways 2 Tomorrow program can start by reaching out to their school counselor to begin the registration process.