Letter to the Editor From Michelle Hill and Mindi Heitland

February 8, 2018

When thinking about your future, we know it can seem overwhelming at times, even when you are looking for advice.  In response to the “Future U” article in last month’s Arrowhead, it brings to light that there are many choices out there for students and families, even in the field of college and career planning. In an effort to support further understanding of options, the coordinators of our work-experience opportunities wanted to be sure you were aware of the vast and FREE opportunities at Waukee High School for students.  

Whether you have a very specific interest in a field, or have absolutely no idea what your next steps are after high school, taking a Waukee Aspiring Professional Experience (APEX) course as a junior or senior could be right for you.  Instructors in the program are considered executive coaches, helping you set personal goals, get connected with over 500 active business partners in the state and nation, and learn technical skills all while working on value-added projects for business partners.  You not only get to try out various career fields, but you also are able to build a portfolio of experience that many other high school students don’t have the opportunity to do.  Being a part of the APEX family means you get to try things out in a supported way before you spend your time or tuition money.  We consider a great semester in APEX when you find something you love, determine somethings you don’t, but most importantly, get you set up for the next step in a way that will help you feel successful and supported with hopefully a lot less stress and debt.  You may not know that there are many paths to college and career and so many high demand fields that are ready to hire you right now and possibly pay for your college.   We are so closely connected with the business community, we will be able to impart a lot of the knowledge to you and your family.  There is no application process for APEX.  All you have to do is register for a class during your January SPA conferences. Learn more about specific courses, hear from your peers about their experiences, or contact us with questions at WaukeeAPEX.org.

In addition to the APEX program, we have even more opportunities to continue building your portfolio, learn more about what you might consider pursuing in the future, sometimes in a paid position along with college credit, as in our School-to-Work program.  This is a college-level internship available in many career fields such as engineering, medical, veterinary, bioscience, finance and more.  In our construction area, you can also earn pre-apprenticeship hours.  This program is only open to seniors, and you must apply and be accepted into the program. This internship opportunity is especially great for students who have taken all classes in a particular field and now want to go take a deep dive in that area to learn more.  For more information visit http://blogs.waukeeschools.org/heitlandm.

Much like the School-to-Work program, but for students interested in the teaching field, Waukee offers an education program.  Students begin with the Foundations of Education class, which gives them a broad overview of teaching. Students in this program also complete college level course work while spending 140 hours in the classroom, giving them a good feel for the life of both a secondary and elementary teacher.  This program is also worth high school and college credit, but most importantly, students really get a taste of what it is like to be a teacher before heading off to study education in college.  Foundations of Education has 5 college credit classes associated with it. Students interested in continuing their education program can then take Children’s Literature, a 3 credit UNI course.  This program is open to juniors and seniors and also requires application and teacher recommendations. For more information, see http://blogs.waukeeschools.org/ahanigankotz/introduction-to-education/.  

The programs listed here are just a few opportunities to explore during your time in high school.  We would be remiss if we didn’t mention so many elective courses in Business, Computer Science, Family and Consumer Science, Technical Education and Art departments that all offer experiential learning courses where you will get to work on professional and technical skills as well.  ProStart in the culinary arts area and Intro to Construction in Technical Education departments are just a few examples. Our WHS counseling staff is top rated and always willing to work with you on college and career planning. Waukee High School’s work-experience programs such as APEX, School-to-Work, and Foundations of Education are regarded as the best in the state.  

Honestly, we could go on and on about the varied options for you just within the high school experience.  The goal with this letter wasn’t to add more choices to your plate, but to let you all know, there are great opportunities for you to be supported, coached, and gain experience right here in Waukee, and at no cost to you or your family.



Michelle Hill – Director, Waukee APEX

Mindi Heitland – Waukee School-to-Work Coordinator

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