MBCC adding more career options for students

A chef shakes a skillet while six students watch at the Michael Berry Career Center.

From computer programming to crime fighting, Dearborn Public Schools is continuing to expand career prep and exploration programs for students.

The Michael Berry Career Center is adding four new career programs for high schools students, nearly doubling its options.  Computer programming, criminal justice, teacher cadet and construction trades are starting at or through MBCC.  They join existing programs in health science; culinary arts/hospitality; digital multimedia and design; and the Dearborn Business Academy.

Michael Berry Career Center, on the Dearborn Heights campus, is a part-day program open to Dearborn Public School students in 10th, 11th and 12th grade.  Students are bused to and from their home high schools – Dearborn High, Edsel Ford or Fordson.

MBCC has seen enrollment grow over the last five years from 137 students to 635 this year, and the district is considering plans to expand the campus.

The new computer programming path will start with a new Computer Discovery Class at the student’s home high school.  Students will then shift to MBCC for Advanced Placement computer courses.  Some students at the Dearborn Center for Math, Science and Technology, also housed on the Dearborn Heights campus, are already taking the AP classes.

The new criminal justice program is being done with assistance from the Dearborn Police Department.  Students can earn a certificate and be prepared to enter the police academy or head to college to pursue a law-enforcement related career.

The teacher cadet program will also run at students’ home high schools, although it is overseen by MBCC.  This program will train students to assist with tutoring elementary school students and to get a better feel for the teaching profession.

The new construction trades program will start with students taking woodshop next year.  The following year, students will get more hands on experience building actual projects, but MBCC is still hammering out those details.  The goal is to eventually have students dual enrolled in construction trades at Henry Ford College.  Students will also take a special construction geometry class, which has been shown to be extremely successful in other programs around the country.

The existing Dearborn Business Academy is also expanding.  Currently, students take marketing, management and accounting courses, but classes in entrepreneurship and social media/ digital marketing are also in the works.

The new programs are just the latest in a continuing effort to offer all Dearborn Public School students a way to explore and prepare for careers after college – from trades to degrees.

The district is adding its fourth early college program that combines high school and an associate degree or trade certificate into a free five-year program.  Three of those programs have a specific career focus in health care, manufacturing-related trades or education.

Fordson High School has launched an Academies model to get students seriously thinking about and exploring career options.  Edsel Ford and Dearborn High might follow with their own programs.

“We have really focused on having all these different career pathways,” said John Bayerl, who oversees Dearborn’s career and technical programs.

The implementation several years ago of the Michigan Merit Curriculum really limited how much career exploration students can do by filling their schedule with academic college prep courses, Bayerl said.

But letting students explore career options helps during high school as well as after.  Helping students find their passion gets them excited and engaged at school and leads to greater success in class, on standardized tests, with graduation rates and in life after school.

“We are trying to give them an option,” Bayerl said.