Magazine article Techniques

Eyes Wide Open

Magazine article Techniques

Eyes Wide Open

Article excerpt

When the members of a Missouri school district consortium opened their eyes to the possibilities of school-to-work activities, they were surprised by the opportunities they found.

School-to-work activities in the 11-school-district consortium that comprises the Cass CareerNet in west central Missouri have provided a very revealing education for the communities and schools involved. Although the business community and the school community had coexisted for years, they were amazed to find that they still had a lot to learn about each other. The school-to-work activities instigated in their district have expanded that knowledge, and ultimately, the students have been the prime beneficiaries of this collaboration.

Seeing Opportunities

One of the discoveries for the educators was the amount of economic activity and employment opportunities that exist in their community. Adrian High School and Drexel High School wanted to send every member of their junior classes out on a job shadowing and were astonished to find that the number of willing work sites outnumbered their students. The two schools had not realized that so many jobs existed in the area until the STW coordinators literally went door to door and asked businesspeople to help with the project. This realization encouraged instructors at all grade levels to rethink ways they could integrate their coursework with the resources in their town and gave them an added appreciation for the economic activity in their school district.

Seeing Connections

For those school districts in the consortium with no major economic nucleus, the surprise was in learning of the workplace connections available through the students, their families and friends. Midway High School and Sherwood Middle School each were able to staff an in-school career fair just by tapping those resources with a direct connection to a student or faculty member. Each project was able to provide exceptional exposure to careers in each of the six major career paths used by the Cass CareerNet to organize exploration experiences. The added benefit of this project was the very positive response of the adults who were willing to visit these rural locations and support the programs to educate students about careers and opportunities.

Seeing Potential

In other schools, the program leaders were able to look around their own environment and create projects that capitalized on existing resources. …

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