Missouri Career Pathways

Missouri Career Pathways is a statewide, collaborative initiative that supports the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Show-Me Success program goal that all Missouri students will graduate ready for success.  Partners in the program include state agencies, key employers, employer organizations, secondary and postsecondary institutions and community organizations working to increase the number of Missouri youth who attain a postsecondary credential with value in the market and are poised for success in high-demand occupations with a living wage. Many of these high-demand occupations fall into the science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) categories.

Successful career pathways are built by regional task forces comprised of key stakeholders including Workforce Investment Board Directors, Regional Career Pathways Directors, Consultants, Advisors, District Superintendents, Principals, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Directors, Regional Employers, Higher Education Leaders, Chamber of Commerce Leaders, Local Government Officials, and Community Organization Leaders. Career pathways combine early and sustained career information and advising systems, rigorous academics, and a strong technical education with early college experience. In a constantly evolving and increasingly challenging labor market, career pathways will develop an innovative workplace learning opportunity to equip all Missouri students with the skills and credentials to succeed.

The primary goal of the Missouri Career Pathway Program is to promote the development and implementation of successful career pathways that meet the needs of communities in nine geographical regions. Resources include one full time and seven half-time Regional Pathways Consultants/Directors serving as convening intermediaries. The consultant will provide assistance to school districts, career and technical education centers, postsecondary institutions and business organizations in the development and implementation of career pathways to ensure all Missouri students are “Success Ready." There are also nine half-time Regional Career Advisors that work with school districts, area career centers, military, and postsecondary institutions to ensure that Missouri students will have the knowledge, skills and experiences to make successful transitions to postsecondary options based on their educational and career goals. The career advisors focus on Missouri Connections, an online career program, and ensuring that all students have a rigorous and relevant individual career and academic plan (ICAP). They are instrumental in working with school districts to organize local and regional non-traditional STEAM events.

The consultants/directors work closely with the career advisors in organizing and promoting STEAM events in their respective regions.

Our Services

Building career pathway networks that include education, business, industry, and postsecondary partners.

  • Assisting School Districts in identifying high demand careers in their region
  • Connecting employers with educators
  • Supporting districts in providing career awareness, exploration, and preparation for all students
  • Promoting work-based learning experiences for students
  • Advising school districts regarding programs of study development
  • Connecting educators with postsecondary programs that prepare students for careers
  • Coordinating and facilitating teacher externships which provide opportunities for first-hand exposure to businesses within a career pathway
  • Facilitating workshops and training

Pathways for Teachers Programs

School Districts Guiding Principles

Meet Our Team
Perry Gorrell

Perry Gorrell | Program Manager | Missouri Career Pathways Network

Perry Gorrell assumed his new role at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as the Career Pathways Manager on July 1st, 2022. Perry spent 30 years in public education as a teacher, high school principal and superintendent. Prior to his career in public education, Perry grew up on a family farm and worked his way through college in the skilled trade areas. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Education, a Master’s in Education of Secondary Administration and a Specialist in Education in Educational Leaders all from the University of Central Missouri.

The Missouri Career Pathways program plays an integral part in Missouri’s Show-Me Success initiative. As the Career Pathways Manager, Steve and the Missouri Career Pathways team of Directors, Consultants, and Advisors utilize regional and state level labor markets needs as they work to engage high school educators, postsecondary institutions, and employers in a more collaborative approach to develop a comprehensive network of pathways to serve the youth in high school and beyond. The goal of the Missouri Career Pathways program is to ensure that all high school graduates acquire the competencies, credentials, and opportunities needed to be ready for employment or college entry and to ensure students are being prepared to meet Missouri’s current and future workforce needs. Ultimately, Missouri students through a proper network of pathways will be “Success Ready”.


Dawn Richards

Dawn Richards | St. Louis Pathways Regional Director 

Dawn Richards serves as the St. Louis Career Pathways Regional Director. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of education. In her former role as a high school business education teacher, she also held several leadership positions within her school such as the instructional leadership team chair, the building leadership team chair, the building improvement committee chair, and she had the responsibility of planning the school’s advisory program. Dawn has a passion for helping young people recognize their options after high school and feels it is important to know what career opportunities are available to them.

Dawn received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Fisk University in Nashville, TN, a Masters in Education Administration from Lindenwood University, and a Doctorate from Maryville University in Educational Leadership.



Roberta Carson

Roberta Carson | Mid-Missouri Pathways Regional Director 

Roberta Carson serves as the Mid-Missouri Pathways Regional Director.  She joined the Pathways team in May of 2015.  Roberta earned a B.A. in English, a M.ED. in Educational and Counseling Psychology and has worked in both the Boonville and Columbia school districts.  During her thirty plus year career as an English and Humanities teacher, high school counselor and technical center counselor, Roberta has assumed many roles;  from Student Council advisor to a founding member of a faculty Executive Council.  She has implemented the model career guidance program and student personal plans of study, worked on steering and advisory committees, partnered with area community colleges, and collaborated with area school administrators and industry.  Recently she worked with her technical center administrator and regional economic developer to introduce a new program that will not only help students in the area graduate with an employable skill and credential, but also has the potential to bring industry to the community.  As a counselor working directly with high school students, Roberta has sought to expand college and career opportunities for students by promoting the A+ program and dual credit options, offering college planning workshops, sponsoring FAFSA Frenzy, and organizing college fairs.  Her participation in the School to Work Initiative convinced Roberta of the need for work based learning experiences for both teacher and students; as a result she has organized hands on learning experiences for teachers and students in the STEM career areas.  Roberta’s central Missouri roots span several generations, and Mid-Missouri is ‘home” in all meanings of the word.  Having worked in both large and small school settings, Roberta strongly believes that the economic health of a community depends on the cooperation of all of its stakeholders in preparing students for careers. 


Ann Starlin-Horner

Ann Starlin-Horner | Kansas City Pathways Regional Director 

Ann Starlin-Horner serves as the Kansas City Pathways Regional Director.  She joined the Pathways team in July 2014.  Ann grew up near the coast of Oregon and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and a Masters of Arts degree in Special Education from the University of Oregon.   She completed a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Kansas.

Ann has been a teacher, middle and high school principal, or central office administrator in the states of Oregon, Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado, and most recently, Missouri,  where she served as the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Leadership in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.  During her tenure in Lee’s Summit R-7, she led several initiatives that focused on college and career readiness.   One example was an initiative branded “connecting all students to their futures.”  It began with strong collaboration between the business community and the district.   This collaboration led to the development of district programs implemented at each high school that prepare students to make career choices and decisions regarding their post high-school education or training programs.



Pathways Team: Laura Harris Photo

Laura Harris | Springfield Career Advisor and Career Pathways Consultant for Region 7

Laura Harris serves as the Springfield Career Advisor and Career Pathways consultant. She began these roles in July of 2021. Laura earned a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and was a Choral Music Educator for ten years at Central High School in Springfield. Along with helping students make great music, she developed positive relationships with them. She helped them achieve their educational and personal goals in her classes, while encouraging them to progress toward graduation. During those years, she was also the Cabinet and Student Council Sponsor, where she mentored students to become good leaders, and have a positive impact on the school and community. She was also the Peer Mediation Sponsor, where she taught students to use active listening skills to help others resolve conflict, and keep a peaceful school atmosphere.

She earned a Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling from Missouri State University. She enjoyed serving as a Career Counselor at the Lebanon Technology and Career Center for two years. While working there she learned about the advantages students have when they use hands-on learning to gain skills in the areas of study they are passionate about for a career. She feels that when students connect learning to their future goals, it makes the education more relevant. She was also a counselor for the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) Program at Central High School for nineteen years. She implemented all areas of the Missouri Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program. She helped students achieve their academic goals, while maintaining positive mental health. She guided students to develop Personal Plans of Study, and work toward focusing on the steps for college and career readiness. As the I.B. Counselor, she encouraged students to maintain a rigorous course of study, so they could test in six curricular areas, earn their international diploma, and prepare for success at any postsecondary institution. She was a Head Dance Team coach for fourteen years, and enjoyed helping students develop their talents. She served in leadership roles, as the Counseling Department Head, and on the District Lead Counselor Team for many years. She also supervised many mentees going into the counseling profession, as well as two Missouri College Advising Corps Advisers.

Laura has loved working with students, staff and counselors in many different capacities during her thirty-one years in education. She feels that a strong and rigorous curriculum, paired with exposure to College and Career opportunities, is the best way to prepare our students for the future. She is looking forward to collaborating with counselors in her region, and supporting them in any way that she can to help their students achieve their goals.


Pathways Team: Polly Matteson Photo

Polly Matteson I Northeast Missouri Pathways Consultant 

Polly Matteson serves as the Pathways Consultant for Region 4, which includes 17 counties in Northeast Missouri, and joined the Pathways team in August of 2017. Polly’s previous professional experience includes advising college students as they navigate various stages of the career decision making process, working with faculty to include important career education in their syllabi, developing recruiting partnerships with employers, and coordinating on-campus recruiting events. Additionally, she spent several years with a major airline, as a flight attendant, service manager, and flight attendant instructor. Polly works closely with and serves on the board of several organizations focused on workforce and community development. Application of classroom knowledge through hands-on and interactive projects is a focus of the Pathways program and Polly is passionate about helping all students become “success ready”, whatever their path may be. She works to expose students to career options and skill development through collaborative efforts with schools, employers, and a variety of community organizations. Polly holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Master of Arts degree in Education from William Woods University, and extensive coursework in Positive Psychology. 


Pathways Team: Laura McVay Photo

Laura McVay | Southeast Regional Professional Development Center

Laura Hendley McVay joined the Pathways team in August 2019 in the grant funded position located at the Southeast Regional Professional Development Center in Cape Girardeau, MO.  For over 30 years, Laura has been working in Career and Technical Education (CTE).  With experience coordinating programs through State College of Missouri and Rolla Technical Institute, Laura gained the CTE knowledge and experience to move into CTE administration.  She spent 9 years as the area school director for Sikeston Career and Technology Center and 6 years at Waynesville Career Center.  While a CTE director, Laura wrote the New Program applications for five new CTE programs, enhancement grants exceeding $4 million dollars, and was a part of the construction management team for the construction of the new Waynesville Career Center building. 

As a part of Laura’s commitment to the career and technical education educators’ professional organization, Missouri Association of Career and Technical Education (MOACTE), she served on numerous committees and as a member of the leadership team culminating with two terms as MOACTE president.  Laura also had a great interest in economic development and served on the Waynesville/St. Robert Chamber of Commerce and the Southeast Missouri Workforce Investment Board. 

Seeing students succeed has always been one of the driving forces for Laura’s continued interest in education and in CTE.  She is a staunch advocate for Career and Technical Student Organizations and was devoted to finding a way for every student to be a member and be able to participate in all the aspects of the organization including competitions at the district, state, and national level.   She remains committed to ensuring excellence in CTE by teaching CTE beginning teacher courses for the University of Central Missouri.

Laura holds a Bachelor of Science in Speech from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, a Master’s of Education in Practical Arts and Vocational Technical Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an Education Specialist from William Woods University.  She lives in Lilbourn, MO and volunteers for the Helping Hand’s Children’s Food program, the New Madrid County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, and the Trail Life, children, and youth ministries at New Madrid Baptist Church.

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