Putnam County Schools adds two new Tennessee Certified Pathways for high school students 

Aspiring Special Education teacher Catherine Timmerman, CHS student, reads to students at Jere Whitson as a part of the Teaching as a Profession program.

PUTNAM COUNTY – Putnam County School System announces they have earned two new Certified Pathways from the Tennessee Pathways Program for high school students. Cookeville High School students will be able to choose Teaching as a Profession (K-12) and Early Childhood Education Careers (K-4) pathways. While these two programs have been available for the last few years, after reviewing each program during the 2021-22 school year, they have received glowing reviews and the official designation of Certified Pathways.

Eva McDermott, CHS student, aspires to be a 2nd-grade teacher and gains experience by reading to students through the Teaching as a Profession program.

This is the fourth and fifth Certified Pathway that Putnam County schools have received. The first was Coding, followed by Mechatronics and Nursing. In 2021, The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced 159 pathways in 94 high schools, and 51 districts earned the Tennessee Pathways Certification for creating regional postsecondary opportunities, with Putnam County earning two of the 159. This more than doubles the number of Certified Pathways in Tennessee, bringing the total to 281 Certified Pathways in 136 high schools and 69 districts. 

“To earn two certified pathways during the site visit interview process is a great accomplishment for our school system. PCSS was also the only district in the Upper Cumberland chosen for a site visit during the pathway certification interview process. Our teachers, Mrs. Stephanie Ross and Mrs. Mandy Rawls did an excellent job highlighting the great opportunities in both pathways. We are grateful to our stakeholders and partners who were a part of the site visit interview process as well,” said Dr. Leslie Eldridge, PCSS Career and Technical Education (CTE) Supervisor. “It is a wonderful opportunity for our students when our district is awarded a certified pathway. It opens the door for our students to gain exposure and experience in a career they might choose after high school and as they enter a post-secondary institution. For our district, it shows that we have an established program offering students high-quality opportunities that can lead our students to be future-ready.”

Each pathway PCSS submitted was evaluated through a rigorous application process in which schools detailed their postsecondary and employer partnerships, early college and career experiences, and structures for providing students with impactful career advisement. The minimum score to earn the Certification is 60 points on a 100-point scale. PCSS’s new Certified Pathways each scored 94 for Teaching as a Profession and 96 for Early Childhood Education Careers. 

“Teaching as a Profession is for students interested in becoming an educator. In this program of study, course content covers the components of instruction, teaching strategies, types of assessments, student learning, special populations, educational technology, classroom management, lesson planning, professionalism and more,” said Dr. Eldridge. “For Early Childhood Education Careers, this program is designed to prepare students for careers as early childhood teachers. Course content covers the components of curriculum planning, student learning, screening and assessing and many other skills related to teaching younger populations.”

Upon completing either of these programs of study, students will have the opportunity to work alongside educators in an internship experience and build and compile artifacts for a professional portfolio in preparation for advanced training as future educators at the postsecondary level.

Aspiring Special Education teacher Catherine Timmerman, CHS student, reads to students at Jere Whitson as a part of the Teaching as a Profession program.

“Tennessee is committed to building strong college and career pathways statewide,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Students benefit from having exposure to high-quality career pathways, and these pathways will serve to enhance our state’s future success and outcomes. We are proud to have more than doubled the number of Certified Pathways, and this tremendous growth speaks to our districts, communities and partners’ shared values of strong education-to-career pathways. The department is proud to support every district across all regions working to develop further, enhance and grow these opportunities.” 

Putnam County Director of Schools Corby King added, “As a district, we are committed to preparing our students to be college and career ready. Adding these two Certified Pathways is another opportunity we give our students to do that. We are thrilled to add two more Pathways to our district.” 

How are pathways certified?

Launched in 2019 in partnership with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), the Tennessee Pathways Certification sets clear expectations for alignment, advisement, and partnerships that define strong education-to-career pathways. Beyond establishing standards for program quality and design, the certification elevates and celebrates innovative and exemplary pathways in the state.   

A list of the 2021 Tennessee Certified Pathways can be found here. For additional information on Tennessee Pathways, click here

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