One monumental task our public schools are charged with is preparing students to be productive citizens in an ever-changing world. As the job market changes and employer needs follow suit, the way in which students prepare for life after college has to change along with it.

No district in the state may be making that transition as smoothly as Charlotte Public Schools. The district, and more specifically Dr. Bill Barnes, principal of Charlotte High School, was recognized a couple weeks ago by Governor Rick Snyder for being a leader in education when laying out his Michigan Marshall Plan Initiative. The plan calls for investing $100 million in new funding dedicated to innovative programs, including competency-based certification, assistance for schools to improve curricula and classroom equipment, scholarships and stipends, and support for career navigators and teachers.

Recognizing the partnerships Charlotte High School has made with post secondary institutions and the pathways established for students, Roger Curtis, director of Talent and Economic Development for the State of Michigan, visited Charlotte High School Wednesday, March 7 to tour some of the innovative programs CHS has put in place.

“There are islands of excellence around the state when it comes to innovative programs and schools,” Curtis said following his visit. “Charlotte is one of those islands and is in a good position to help others navigate the course in providing students with the 21st century skills employers are desperately seeking and preparing them to become lifelong learners.”

Curtis learned more about CHS’s Freshman Academy, Woodbridge College Promise Program, Charlotte Early Middle College, and Career and Technical Education courses (CTE). Each program is designed to give Charlotte students options for life after high school. Recognizing not every student is destined for a four-year university, the programs span everything from college prep to certification and trades programs.

“Charlotte High School is on the right track to preparing students for the high-demand, high-wage careers of today and the future,” Rogers said. “Collaboration, teamwork and many other 21st century skills are already being taught in their classrooms and are preparing students to become lifelong learners. Charlotte High School is challenging the status quo, and that’s a good thing — it’s what the Marshall Plan for Talent and the Michigan Career pathways Alliance is all about.”

Barnes said the recognition belongs to the entire staff at Charlotte High School.

“This is about the great work our teachers have done to foster opportunities for our students,” Barnes said. “We help our students identify a plan and give them the skills needed to carry out that plan.”

Curtis said Charlotte is on the right track in terms of the innovative educational approach students need to be successful.

“When we talk about pioneers in education and talent development, we’re talking about schools like Charlotte High School.”