Opinion: Support urged for Pathways

Fund the Pathways program at Mount Abraham Union High School. Fully.
Recently I was made aware that the support staff positions in the Pathways program were going to be cut if the budget was passed. The budget has not been passed yet, so I am relieved, but not at ease. The termination of these positions would be doing an unimaginable disservice to the students at Pathways.
I had the blessing of attending Pathways as an incoming senior at Mt. Abe. I could speak extensively about the benefits of the program as a whole, because it was the catalyst for me becoming a business owner, a supervisor at one of Vermont’s first medical marijuana dispensaries and a performance artist, but I want to focus particularly on the positions of community liaison and adviser.
One of the outstanding strengths of the Pathways program is the community liaison. I wish I could have had access to this resource all four years of high school and even earlier in my education. To have someone who tried their best to get to know me and then connected me to people in the community was something I had never experienced and it truly changed my life. I met someone who I still work for today. I was connected to the local music scene and met artists I continue to collaborate with. Most importantly, I learned how powerful community and relationships are.
Having an adviser is something I wish everyone could experience. My adviser was interested in my individuality, helped me express myself in unique ways and was always ready to help me see things from different perspectives and problem solve when I faced roadblocks. This relationship made me more confident, creative and able to persevere when I was ready to give up.
Would you have liked a community liaison and a personal adviser during high school?
If you had or have children in school, would you like them to have these people in their lives?
Frankly, the traditional systems of learning that most of us have experienced are not going to serve the coming generations as the world changes at an ever-accelerating pace. We need to let go a little bit, let students follow their curiosity and be there when they need to connect with people in the community who can help them grow and be there when they need encouragement.
With more funding, Pathways could not only be a program for those that struggle in the current system, but also one that offers further opportunities to grow for those that are comfortable in it. The school board, the superintendent and we as a community have a responsibility to ourstudents to provide them with an array of possibilities, the agency to choose their path and the people to support them on their way.
Liam Corcoran

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