Dallas ISD launched several “Career Institutes” to offer students pathways to lucrative careers in dentistry, cybersecurity, construction, welding, and other fields.
Currently, three institutes serve 19 Dallas ISD high schools, providing qualifying students with opportunities to participate in various training and career programs. A fourth institute is also in the works.
“It’s incredible what our students can do given the opportunities, and that’s exactly what we do here: we give them opportunities to show what they can do,” said Jean Laswell, director of Career Institute North, according to CBS News Texas.
Students taking part in career training still attend classes at their home institutions. Many of the programs offer dual credit options and the opportunity to be certified in various fields.
“Carpentry and construction, HVAC, electrical and plumbing, all the things we need in our homes,” Laswell said. “Also we have aviation flight for those interested in becoming pilots. We have automotive technology.”
These opportunities are created with the support of industry partners, who have a lot to gain by helping create a highly skilled future workforce.
For instance, as recently reported by The Dallas Express, Bosch Group announced that it would be donating power tools, measuring tools, and accessories valued at more than $20,000 to Career Institute North. It cited the importance of supporting students’ learning and development with hands-on skill-building experiences in the classroom amid the growing demand for skilled workers across the United States.
William Milligan, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who teaches culinary arts at Career Institute North, told CBS News Texas it was his “dream job.”
“I’ve never been someplace where I look forward to coming to work every day. Seeing their faces light up? It’s very special… it’s a feeling I’ve never had,” Milligan said.
“Our students are very, very fortunate because they can get started on a career before they even leave high school,” said Laswell.
For years, Dallas ISD has struggled to provide its students with a quality education, possibly contributing to falling student enrollment figures.
The district underperforms statewide averages in a number of student achievement outcome metrics, according to the latest accountability reports by the Texas Education Agency. For instance, only 41% of students scored at grade level on STAAR exams during the 2021-2022 school year, while the statewide average was 48%.