The Students at the Center Hub team spoke with Tina Mikkelsen, the community coordinator for the Portland Arts & Technology High School (PATHS) program, to learn more about the student-centered work that happens onsite.
What is PATHS?
Portland Arts & Technology High School is a Career Technical Center located in Portland, Maine. We serve students in grades 9-12 from Portland and 19 other surrounding communities. PATHS is a school that’s driven by student choice. Students come to us for a half-day and attend their hometown high school as well. What makes us different is that we are a student-centered learning environment driven by our students and their choices and aspirations.
Why come to PATHS?
PATHS courses are designed for both career-and college-bound students. Our students gain new skills, cutting-edge knowledge through applied “Hands-on/Minds-on Learning.” Hands-on/Minds-on Learning is a process that allows students to be more independent and in charge of their learning. The students must assess their own work and the process of attaining their goals or completion of their projects.
Why is “Hands-on/Minds-on Learning” important at PATHS?
At PATHS, all of our classes have hands-on sections as part of our course work in addition to classroom work. For example, in our Masonry class, students are required to build a fire pit. First, they learn about measurements and chemistry and then they start building. Selection of bricks, type of mortar, and placement is crucial to the success of the project. Students must stop, step back, and look at their project, take measurements and consider appearance. The student then must decide what changes to make to ensure that, upon completion, the work is quality, safe and can be sold to a customer.
How do PATHS teachers teach?
We offer classroom instruction based on industry standards as well as extensive lab/shop experiences to all of our students. Community-based learning through internships provides all students a real-life learning experience in preparation for either college or career. A typical day for our students starts with time in the classroom, followed by time in the shop or labs. The PATHS students are putting what they learn into practice immediately. This makes their learning real.
Has the PATHS model been effective?
PATHS has a long history of success. In the past, we have had former students return to teach in our building, serve on our advisory boards, and provide internships/jobs for our students. Former students are working at local construction companies, Animal Planet, major movie/television studios, the music industry, teaching across Maine, and working in the New York fashion industry. For many of our students, college is a next step, while others go directly into the workforce.