Partnership could lead to careers in healthcare for Kentlake students

A partnership between Kentlake High and Renton Technical College could fulfill an innovative education vision for students.

A partnership between Kentlake High and Renton Technical College could fulfill an innovative education vision for students.

Through the partnership, Kentlake students could earn a two-year associate’s degree in pre-nursing alongside a high school diploma.

The program, which is tentatively called Kentlake Medical Career Pathways, will align Kentlake’s curriculum with requirements at Renton Tech for students in the program, allowing a direct transfer of credits to Renton Tech or the possibility of transferring to another college or university explained Kentlake Principal Joe Potts.

“Renton has a distinct focus on healthcare and healthcare related fields,” Potts said of the reason Kentlake decided to partner with Renton Tech. “The president of Renton Tech was really interested in promoting this partnership, he’s been at the table with his sleeves rolled up from the beginning.”

Currently, proposals are before the boards of the Kent School District and Renton Tech for approval.

Once Kentlake is given the green light Potts expects the final details to be worked out in time for the program to start next fall.

“Initially, maybe a couple dozen (students) starting next year,” Potts said. “(It) could develop into a significant draw, anywhere from 25-100 in the future.”

The idea, Potts said, is to give students more opportunities to earn credits, credentials and degrees and to help them be successful as they leave high school.

“Students can take college level courses early in their career, giving them that support and success here,” Potts said. “The earlier, the better.”

Kentlake offered a similar kind of program when the school first opened, Potts said. That program also allowed students to earn a credential as a certified nursing assistant. When the school was built a few classrooms were designed with that program in mind, however staffing and funding issues led to that program being discontinued, Potts said.

“We’re resuscitating the CNA program,” Potts said. “There are a lot of things you have to be able to work through. It’s a lot of work.”

The program will also include a partnership with MultiCare in Covington, according to Potts. Some of the classes will be taught at MultiCare, giving students hands-on experience in the community.

The long-term vision includes an expanding partnership with MultiCare as the program grows, Potts said.

“The possibilities are staggering. And they’re real. It’s real and it’s doable. And for a fraction of what it would cost to go to the university of anywhere,” Potts said.

A changing economy as well as changing demographics and technology are driving, and requiring, changes in education, according to Potts.

“The landscape of public education is changing,” Potts said. “We need to innovate and change with it. We need to help them (students) connect to a profession that will guide them into the future.”

Potts said Kentlake and Renton Tech will also be partnering to offer classes at the high school in the evening to students and community members beginning in the fall.

“It’s good for students, that’s the number one thing,” Potts said.  “We’re here to help our students and our community.”