Susan Miller

Expanding Opportunities - New Leadership Delivering Results for Our K.I.D.S.

Many of us working in today’s economy see how quickly markets are changing, how demand for talent is rising and how willing employers are to seek that talent from where ever it may be.  For example, middle-skilled jobs are those requiring more education than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree.  According to a recent report, these jobs account for 47% of Colorado's three million jobs today and will continue to account for the largest portion of jobs into the next decade.


However, only 36% of the state's workers are currently trained to the middle-skill level. This gap threatens to undermine Colorado's future economic growth and innovation efforts. 


Today too many middle skill jobs are going unfilled because our state K-12 system isn't meeting this need, by ensuring that students not only achieve state standards in reading, writing, math, and science, but also have high quality career and technical education options, including internships and apprenticeships. 


Unfortunately, today we see a growing mix of state, district, and school level Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs of widely varying quality that are creating increasing confusion for families and employers.  Jeffco has the opportunity to leverage career programs happening across the state to lower start up costs and provide more opportunities for students. Jeffco needs to collaborate more closely with other districts and with state organizations like CareerWise Colorado to create a much more effective and integrated CTE system, that will better meet families’ and employers’ needs and support the future growth of the Colorado economy. 


My areas of focus are:

  • Ensure Jeffco has enough CTE program slots to serve every student who wants to access the opportunities

  • Ensure Jeffco pays for Dual enrollment classes at the University of Colorado (CU) and Colorado State University (CSU), and not onlyclasses at community colleges.

CareerExplore is a district program started at Wheat Ridge High School that helps identify students at risk for high school dropout.  It works to tie their academic experience with relevant career opportunities and re-engage them in their learning.


CareerWise is a statewide apprenticeship program that connects students with employers so students have an opportunity to participate in apprenticeships that tie to their academic experiences and career interests.

"At Wheat Ridge High School, administration, staff and parents worked to build pathway options for students.  For example, Wheat Ridge was one of the first high schools to embrace CareerWise’s apprenticeship program.  In addition, staff built CareerExplore for those students who had lost hope and were in grave danger of dropping out. At the recent fundraiser fore CareerExplore, I met two young men who benefitted from the CareerExplore program and had recently started their own contracting company."