St. Ignatius District #28 was recently named as one of 15 communities that were selected for the iGraduate Montana Challenge Fund grant, receiving $10,000.
Announced by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the iGraduate Montana Challenge Fund is in partnership with the Office of Public Instruction and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
The initiative focuses on high school graduation, expanding the scope to include workforce development.
“This grant will help meet the needs of students in our system and encourage programs beyond the classroom,” Superintendent Jason Sargent explained by email.
A focus group of 10 students supplied answers to three questions, including:
• iGraduate Montana is working to support more students graduating from high school, ready for their next steps in life, whether that’s college, career training or straight into the workforce. What advice can you give us to make sure this effort succeeds?
• What’s working-and not working-to support all students succeeding in high school?
• Do you feel prepared to pursue the job or career you hope to have? Why or why not? What needs to happen in high school to better support your preparation for the workforce?
Taking the students’ advice has helped the district to better prepare students for the workforce, Sargent stated.
Sargent shared that the district has focused on five areas to improve, which include safe and welcoming/parent and community, a sense of belonging/culturally aware and collaborative, academic/behavior/attendance supportive, positive future for all students and leadership.
Making freshmen feel welcomed and comfortable as they transition into high school, conducting teacher surveys, requiring students to take a personal finance class their senior year of high school and focusing on various areas of leadership are ways the district is incorporating those five areas.
The district hopes to continue the trend of focusing on students’ futures, taking different approaches to help students achieve goals geared toward the future.
“We want to be forward thinking in everything we do at School District #28,” Sargent said.