Welcome to True Pursuit, a website designed for parents and students who are interested in breaking through the noise of college and career preparation and exploring all options available to them after high school. On this site, you will discover information about our upcoming documentary and also be able to hear from experts in education and business about the new realities in career preparation. From podcasts and essays to video content showcasing your options, this site should act as a resource as you begin to think about what’s ahead. It should help in your journey of finding your True Pursuit.

True Pursuit is sponsored by Tolles Career & Technical Center, a career-technical school providing a launch pad for high school students. Explore our career-technical programs today.


True Pursuit Documentary

Featuring experts in education, parents, and students, True Pursuit will debut online at this site exclusively on November 1, 2016 at 8 p.m. EST.

For decades, America has revered a very specific post-secondary path as a means for guaranteed success: graduate high school, attend a four-year college and land the job of your dreams. While this model may have once ensured employment, the situation in 2016 has dramatically changed. Today, 53 percent of students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree are underemployed or unemployed. In many instances, these programs are failing to equip students with the skills to meet the needs of the current job market. Students are paying for a university name, rather than the skills and training that will help them secure a job. Graduation no longer guarantees employment or a steady income, but for two out of three, it does come with thousands of dollars in accumulated student debt.

As educational leader, author and CEO of Getting Smart Tom Vander Ark explains, “There is a new worst case scenario in America. If you go to college and you rack up debt and you leave without a degree, that’s a disaster.” Vander Ark is just one educational expert featured in True Pursuit, a new documentary film produced by Tolles Career & Technical Center in central Ohio, which serves seven K-12 school districts in the state’s robust career-technical system.

Those featured in True Pursuit include:

  • Kim Wilson, superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center and product herself of a career-technical education that led to her career in education.
  • Jane Bowen, superintendent and CEO of Moore Norman Technology Center in Oklahoma, a state that is a model nationwide for career-technical training opportunities.
  • Tom Vander Ark, author and CEO of Getting Smart, a learning design firm and a partner in Learn Capital, an education venture capital firm. Previously he served as the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Bill Phillips, chief relationship officer in The Ohio State University Office of the CIO. Bill is also a parent, featured in the documentary as his daughter Kaitlyn graduates from high school and prepares for her future.
  • Beth Probst, owner of At The Core LLC, a company that helps students focus on their strongest personal traits and how to use them to their advantage when choosing a major and targeted career through guided self-assessment.
  • Tonya Ramey, director of Ohio Hi-Point Career Center in Bellefontaine, Ohio, who has specialized in integrating academics into the career-tech experience.
  • Cindy Binion, middle school instructor at Tolles and West Jefferson Middle School. Binion, who recently moved from business and industry, teaches a unique career-technical program at the middle school level.
  • Student voices: Kaitlyn Phillips (Class of 2016 from Hilliard City Schools), Dominic Kozlowski (Class of 2016 from Hilliard City Schools), and several pre-school students.

The documentary is a conversation starter for parents, for communities, for business leader, for all of us to ask where did we veer off course in preparing students for the reality of what’s ahead? When did we begin to de-value all other pathways besides ones involving four-year degrees? True Pursuit is a documentary featuring interviews and insights from educational leaders, parents, teachers and most importantly students of all ages. Somewhere between all of the rhetoric about college and career preparation, lies our students’ true pursuits.

True Pursuit was filmed over the course of six months since April 2016 on location at:

  • Tolles Career & Technical Center (Plain City, Ohio)
  • Moore Norman Technology Center (Norman, Oklahoma)
  • Getting Smart headquarters (Seattle, Washington)
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
  • West Jefferson Middle School (West Jefferson, Ohio)
  • At The Core LLC (Powell, Ohio)

Executive Producer: Tolles Career & Technical Center

Producer: Shane Haggerty, Director of Marketing at Tolles

Produced By: On Scene Productions (Columbus, Ohio)

Directed By: Eric Leslie, CEO at On Scene Productions