Magazine article Techniques

Make Connections with Careers

Magazine article Techniques

Make Connections with Careers

Article excerpt

"WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?" THIS IS A QUESTION OFTEN ASKED TO ELEMENTARY and middle school students, and one that has inspired administrators and teachers to wonder if career exploration and development efforts are starting too late. Buckeye Career Center in New Philadelphia, Ohio, is working to determine the answers to these concerns, and a solution has been found through the implementation of a career connector and the Career Connections program.


Career Connections began in Ohio in 2012 through a joint initiative between the Ohio Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation, Ohio Board of Regents, OhioMeansJobs and the Ohio Department of Education. The program was created to provide "a framework by which students develop a vision and realistic plan for their futures--during K-12 and beyond. Career Connections aligns the many efforts around college and career readiness to support students in becoming productive and engaged citizens," according to the Ohio Department of Education ("Career connections," 2017).

Buckeye Career Center adopted its Career Connections program during the 2015-16 school year with the hiring of Kim Fisher, a veteran cosmetology instructor, as the district's new career connector. Fisher spends most of her days in one of Buckeye's 12 partner schools, conducting a variety of activities to engage students in their interests, while also educating them on the cost of college, career possibilities and job readiness. While making career connections, Fisher often explains that many companies in need of a skilled workforce will pay for employees to advance their education.

"The opportunities now are endless because you have these corporations that want skilled workers. [While] they might not pay all of their college, anything is better than nothing," Fisher said.

CareerTechnical Awareness by Grade Level

Career Awareness: Elementary

Fisher stimulates interest in future work and explains various careers to local elementary students in accordance with state standards ("Career connections, 2017). Her work often begins in the second grade, during which students read a book about occupations and complete a craft that relates to the book. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students are invited to attend Career Camp held in the summer at Buckeye, where students choose one program to visit for two days and complete activities related to that program under the supervision of Buckeye instructors. On the final day, students invite their parents for a showcase to demonstrate what they have learned. This gives parents the chance to visit the career center and receive exposure to the endless opportunities available to all students.

2015-2016 Student Reach By Grade Level

K-5           188
6th grade     509
7th grade     934
8th grade    3592
9th grade     343
10th grade   1594
11th grade    810
112th grade   677

Note: Table made from pie graph.

Career Exploration: Middle Grades

State guidelines require Fisher to have students discover a range of work environments using tools and equipment. To achieve this, Fisher hosts career carnivals with fourth-, sixth- and some seventh-grade classes. Carnivals are broken into Career Clusters, and Buckeye Career Center staff the booths, or tables. Each booth offers hands-on activity or a tabletop display that allows high school students to interact with middle school/junior high students while they rotate through the stations. Relevant activities might include making a brick wall with wafer cookies and icing to represent masonry; styling hair on mannequins with cosmetology students; and identifying organs on a medical mannequin to relate medical assisting. A putt-putt golf hole and green represents landscaping and turf management.

In addition to the career carnival, sixth-grade students create free Ohio-MeansJobs profile accounts to complete a career interest survey. …

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