People of Pathways

More than 6,000 Delaware students are following their career dreams thanks to Delaware Pathways, a collaborative partnership between K-12 schools, higher education, and local employers. The Rodel Foundation is just one of many partners involved in this exciting work.

Once enrolled in one of 14 career pathways, students gain practical, hands-on, real-world lessons and training, plus the opportunity to earn college credits and industry credentials.

Today, Delaware Pathways is a model for the nation. Here are just a few of the people and stories contributing to its success.

Do you have a Pathways success story to tell? Let us know.


When we first started the Academy of Finance, the response was amazing. Students said that everybody should take this course because it’s so practical. They didn’t know about credit card debt, all the insurance plans, budgeting.

These are the things their parents talk about but they don’t necessarily understand. Some students came up to me this past semester and said, “Ms. Smith, I opened up a savings account because of the things we learned in class.” And, “I really feel that it’s necessarily to tuck some money away now for when I need it later.” That’s just an example of how it’s really hitting home. It’s causing them to think about where they want to go in life—and not just, “What do I want for dinner tonight?”

It’s hard! Our job is to get them to start thinking. And once you start thinking, you can start planning.Shawn Smith, Business Education Teacher, Appoquinimink High School

Appoquinimink High School utilizes the NAF’s Academy of Finance curriculum and certification. To learn more, click here.

When my family first moved here, I was 11, and I didn’t speak any English. I was a shy girl and I had an accent for the longest time, so making friends was hard. Some kids were not that nice and I just didn’t have the confidence to talk.

But once I started doing the culinary program at William Penn, my chefs told me, ‘to be the best chef, you have to open up. You have to talk.’ Communicating with others is so important in this profession.

I know what I want to do with my life thanks to the focus on careers at William Penn. At first I picked culinary arts because I didn’t know what else to do. But I fell in love with it. And now I’m going to the Culinary Institute of America in the fall. It’s just an incredible opportunity.

The restaurant at Constitution Yards is run by high school graduates, so we learn a little bit from everything—from inventory to taking orders to creating daily specials. It’s kind of like our own little restaurant and it gives us an idea of what’s in store for us in the future.Beatriz Ramirez, William Penn High School graduate, cook at Constitution Yards

Culinary arts students at William Penn run the acclaimed Penn Bistro, and participate in many local community events and competitions. This year, a team from William Penn won the Delaware ProStart Invitational, and advanced to the national finals in April.

My dream for every student who graduates from our school— first of all—is that they are a good person, with good morals who do good things and are kind to people. That’s the most important thing for me.

Then, I hope that they had the chance to at least explore what their interests may be. I didn’t end up in the career field I thought I would be in during high school. I’m not naïve enough to think that all our students are going to find it here, and then they’ll go on and it’ll be their job. But here they at least get to understand a career area well enough to just appreciate it, or say—hey, that’s really where my interest lies and I’m going to follow up.

I couldn’t tell you how many times we hear back from graduates saying, ‘I can’t think you enough for holding us to high standards, making the content difficult, and giving us experiences.’ They appreciate while they’re doing it, but even more so when they’re out in the field.Stacy Cook, principal Smyrna High School

Smyrna High School offers 13 pathways for students, from animal science to early childhood education to digital business communications.

I had an academic scholarship to go to Clemson University as a pre-med chemistry major. I was there for a little over two years when I landed an internship in microbiological research and development. I realized then that the medical field was not for me.

I went home and had a daughter. After she was born, I felt the need to get something going again. So I figured, let me just go to Delaware Tech, take a couple classes because it’s affordable—and see what I like or don’t like.

It was a roll of the dice, going for law, which was the opposite of pre-med. I really liked the analytical and reasoning part of law—how your mind has to work to do this job. I felt like I found where I was supposed to be, and where I could be successful and do something with myself.

[Former Family Court Chief Judge] Chandlee Kuhn was my family law teacher. She helped me get an internship at Cooch & Taylor—with my own office space and everything like a fulltime employee. I did work that the other paralegals did; she threw me right in. I organized case files for her, opened new ones, trial notebooks, corresponded with other attorneys, drafted letters for judges, did legal research, drafted custody and divorce documents. Whatever she needed.

I started applying for jobs and Young, Conaway, Stargatt and Taylor brought me in. Being an intern, doing well, and getting references from Chandlee really helped. I felt ready. I knew this was where I was meant to be.Alexis Baker, legal assistant, Young, Conaway, Stargatt and Taylor

Check out the guide to Delaware Pathways information sheet, or visit for more information. Delaware Pathways partners include:

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