Opinion: School district brings practicality to students’ futures

The Portrait of the Graduate program will help Iowa City students figuring out life after school.


Michael Guhin

The Iowa City Community School District sign is seen on April 29, 2019.

Taylor Newby, Contributor

This year, the Iowa City Community School District partnered with Battelle for Kids and implemented the Portrait of the Graduate program. The program is meant to help current students feel equipped for their next steps, whether that be continuing their education or moving into the workplace.

According to a report from the district, there are 4,239 high-school students enrolled in the four Iowa City high schools and 14,688 total students overall for grades preschool through 12th grade. And because a number of these students will not continue their education, there needs to be a curriculum taught in high schools that is committed to helping each student flourish in their strengths and feel prepared for the workplace.

The goal of this program is to offer practical skill sets that transcend the classroom and enable better prepared future. And in order to do so, the program asks for insight from the leaders and business professionals within the Iowa City community to help mobilize the new curriculum. The power and prevalence of voice in this decision is what will enable its success.

In a previous interview with The Daily Iowan, School District Superintendent Stephen Murley said school leaders had reached out to local business owners, social services, faith leaders and students for a diverse array of perspectives. The University of Iowa’s College of Education is even committed to helping with this program.

“Our approach involves the entire school community — educators in partnership with students, parents, businesses, and others — to ensure sustainable impact in schools,” the Portrait of a Graduate website said.

The power and prevalence of voice in this decision is what will enable its success.

The Iowa City community is especially unique for this program because there is a variety of voices and opinions within the area. There are school district graduates, Kirkwood students, and UI students who are all either still in school or working within a professional context who can lend helpful advice to those preparing to decide what they want their next step to be.

Having people in the community who recently graduated or have worked for years will offer a healthy contrast in the conversation of what these students should be taught while they are finishing up their K-12 education. It’s imperative that there is a variety of voices, because these students that share the same community as us deserve the best and most-informed decision when it comes to what they choose to do next.

One hundred-fifty people signed up to be part of the Portrait of the Graduate project. Each person that signed up will have an opportunity to attend four meetings, from February until May, where members of the Iowa City community will get together and process what they believe students need to know in order to formulate the portrait.

The Portrait of the Graduate is well-timed and imperative for the district. And the opportunity to help empower the next generation of students and professionals within a community as unique as our own cannot be overlooked. 

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.