Commentary: Yes on bond can turn students into superheroes

The Everett Schools bond will help fund career programs in health care and more to serve growing needs.

By Shannon Affholter / For The Herald

How would you like to help create a new generation of superheroes?

Sounds like something out of a movie, however this idea is not only real but simple to accomplish. The superheroes I am talking about are the nurses, doctors and other health care workers who so courageously put themselves on the front lines for our community every day.

These medical and health care professionals have shined during the coronavirus challenges, but they have always been our heroes in the community; sometimes it takes extraordinary circumstances to bring greatness to light. Their importance is something that we cannot ignore. We must act to give our future nurses, doctors and health care workers a clear path to their future professions. The action we must take as a community is to collectively vote yes to the Everett Schools bond for STEM education and health-care careers.

Simply put, this vote affects all of us, along with our friends and loved ones. We must do the right thing and rise to the challenge to make sure that the individuals who aspire to fill these vital health care roles will be able to do so and continue to provide excellent care for us and those we know. This issue is compounded by the fact that with the current demands and expected population growth, our region is facing a serious shortage of qualified medical and health care workers. In fact, medical and health care careers are one of the fastest growing professions in Washington state, and there is little doubt that we will continue to see an increase as our economy recovers. The past few months have also revealed that the need for skillful medical and health care workers has never been greater for our community. We need talented and caring individuals to fill these roles.

The good news is that we can do something about this situation.

During the last year, the Everett School District has partnered with the City of Everett to lead a career preparation program called Everett Career Link. This program provides the education and exposure high school students need to become successful in medical and health care careers and other career pathways; aerospace and advanced manufacturing, energy and sustainability, information and communication technology, education careers, and business and professional services.

Everett Career Link is an important community partnership that works with our local employers to create work-based learning experiences, such as internships and career exploration, that give our high school students the opportunity to immerse themselves and learn about a career or industry by working for an employer for a period of time. These experiences enable students to gain practical knowledge, develop professional and technical skills, and make connections in a field of interest, essentials for successful career preparation.

Here is where we can play an integral part.

The Everett Schools bond that is coming before the community in August will help fund the critical STEM educational needs for our students by enhancing science classrooms across the district and establishing an innovative medical and health care career pathway program that will be taught at Everett High School. This incredible opportunity for our future health care professionals cannot be overstated. Students participating in this exciting medical and health care career pathway program will experience leading-edge technology and hands on learning that will help prepare them for future medical and health care jobs in our community; jobs we all rely on to stay healthy as individuals and as a community.

In addition to the important medical and health care jobs, the successful passage of the school bond will add hundreds of needed construction jobs that will help get our economy back on track. With the current low interest rates and the district’s excellent financial record, we can maximize these advantages and have the lowest local tax rate in a decade. This is a challenging time for many individuals and households throughout our community; however, it is also the best opportunity to make the most out of our shared investment. When I am considering a vote on a tax measure, I want to make sure the investment will be managed well and provide a direct benefit to our community. Therefore, I encourage you to vote yes for Everett Schools.

Voting yes is helping to create a new generation of superheroes!

Shannon Affholter is a consultant with Shannon Affholter Squared, an associate faculty member at Everett Community College, and affiliate instructor at the University of Washington.

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