Have Fun With Circuits!

Kent ISD has been grant-enabled to develop a library of Little Bits electronics learning tools. Attendees will have fun while experimenting with various circuits, sensors, apps, power sources, and tools to create solutions to modern day problems with these kits.Engage your students in critical thinking, the engineering process, and the internet of things.

Over 100 lessons for classroom use around design thinking, engineering, and core content standards will be shared. Come learn to use this amazing tool, and then use them in your classroom! Sign Up at this link

PS: Tell your admin to relax, we will even pay for the sub!


EQ= Career²

I am writing this article in response to a Wharton article on emotional quotient.

Emotional quotient. As a STEM worker, I didn’t give this much weight in my early career. Numbers. Numbers were the thing. I even teased my then college girlfriend -now wife- for studying this kind of stuff (she was a psych major). Did I ever need to learn a few things.

As a young manager, I found myself struggling to understand why there were various responses to plain operational facts on graphs of operational performance. ” There are the numbers,” I would find myself thinking, “Why is there anything to discuss?” I chuckle now reading that last sentence.

If you are not yet familiar with the concept of EQ, you can, of course, google it. However, here is a definition, “The capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).”

There is quite a large body of research on this topic, and it all points to the same thing: to have good success in your career, you must have a highly developed EQ. The article from Wharton mentioned at the top of this post is about a book written to help professionals at various levels in their career develop and leverage emotional intelligence.

Why am I discussing this  on our career readiness blog? Because our student’s ability to have a successful career will be influenced by their ability to apply their emotional intelligences to the team environment and workplace they will find themselves in. We all know or have known a jerk or two that we wish we didn’t have to work with. These issues can slow team performance, goal attainment, and ultimately career achievement.

Numbers still matter, but as I matured as a leader and coworker I found myself saying that there are two sides to every job: 1- You have to know the job, the work. People don’t want to do your work for you, or explain it to you for too long. It’s annoying and slows the team down. 2- You have to be a reasonable person. This is the EQ part. No matter how good you are at the work, if everyone thinks you’re a toad, it’ll still be a problem.

How can we create practice environments in our classrooms for students to work on developing these critical skills?  How can your classroom become the one that learners look back on and think, “Man I learned how to do this people thing in so-and-so’s class; and I use it EVERY DAY.”




Build your professional network with mini job shadows

The hardest part of getting a job can often be getting in the door. Often job seekers lament that they submit resume after resume and never receive call backs or interview offers. Although an incomplete resume or lacking credentials can be to blame, many resumes get lost in the shuffle, simply because there is nothing on the page that makes it jump out from the rest of the pile. One way to counteract this struggle is to build a professional network of individuals who can act as mentors and advocates when jobs are available. These professional mentors can offer advice on which type of skills to highlight in a resume, offer insider advice on what the job entails and even make recommendations to the recruiting team to fast track an interview opportunity.

Does building a network seem like a difficult task? Don’t be intimidated! The Kent ISD Career Readiness team has connected with several employers to offer 1.5-hour job shadows in the industries and positions of your choice this Spring through our Explorer Program. These short experiences around Kent County offer students a fantastic opportunity to build the relationships and connections that could become significant as their skills and career journeys progress.

We have two EXPLORER sessions offered this spring, March 1 and May 3. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the event which runs from 3:30-5:00 each afternoon. Registration is simple and the access to professional mentors is as direct as it gets!

Check out the registration page for more information and to see the roles that are available.


Circle These Upcoming Events!


These evening career exploration events are like getting 5 job shadows in one! Students and parents, come hear directly from a panel of professionals, ask your career questions, and tour the organization’s workspace. 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM. Check out the complete schedule here! Below are a few of the upcoming events:

  • February 7– Public Safety/Law Enforcement (hosted by Grand Rapids Police Department)
  • February 21 – Engineering (hosted by Fishbeck Thompson Carr & Huber)
  • March 7 – Pharmacy (hosted by Meijer Pharmacy)

Looking for scholarships you can share with your students? Did you know the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, a local philanthropical foundation, awards over ONE MILLION DOLLARS each year for use at any college/university in the US? If not, pass it on to your students as one of their options. The interactive general scholarship application is available through April 1. Best of all, students only have to fill out one application for over 60 different scholarship funds! For more information, go to grfoundation.org, or contact Ruth Bishop at rbishop@grfoundation.org. See the attached flyer for more details.


Are you a teacher, counselor, or administrator who sees career exploration and preparation as more than just a “nice to have” when it comes to curriculum and instruction? Looking for ways to better connect with business partners, or stay current on all the career readiness opportunities the county has to offer? Then come check out our Career Readiness Network Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 12:00-2:30 at the ISD. Lunch will be provided, and sub reimbursement is available for those who need it. Be a career readiness champion for your school or district and walk away with resources, connections and strategies! Sign up on the PD HUB or contact erickelliher@kentisd.org for more information.

Counselors and administrators, are you interested in having your program make more impact on student achievement? Learn more about the shifting role of the school counselor, and receive in-depth training on gathering data and demonstrating accountability. Mark Kuranz, ASCA Director of Professional Development will lead this one-day workshop on Monday, March 20 from 8:00-3:30pm at the Muskegon Area CTC. Cost is $40. To register, visit muskegonisd.org/development.  See the attached flyer for more info.

Middle Schoolers Consider Future Careers

Later today, I get to meet some middle school students.  Not just any students mind you, but some pretty bright, forward-thinking middle schoolers who know that in order to be ready for the future that lays ahead of them, they have to start thinking about it – and preparing for it – now.  And the best way for them to prepare, at this point in their lives, is to hear the stories of those who are making the journey right now.  That’s impressive for any K-12 student to recognize.  But it’s particularly astounding when middle school students “get it.”

However, these students from City High Middle School don’t just “get it;” they actually enjoy it!  Every Wednesday, a group of committed students gets together during their lunch period, to hear from local employers about their career story.  Open to all students, as many as 30 students have shown up for a single session, though the core of the group is comprised of ten 7th grade girls.  The sessions are quite informal for the guests; they don’t need a prepared presentation, although some still come with one. Still, the kids take it quite seriously and pretty much run the show.

The program started through a partnership between a local Junior Achievement office and City High Middle and is run now by middle school counselor Kasey Hagler.  Every week, Hagler finds a different industry professional to come in and share about what they do as well as tell their story – what led them to their career choice, what they’re passionate about doing and any interesting or funny anecdotes they can bring.  She explains that the “kids like hearing about jobs, but they like the realness of the people more” as the students connect to the real life experiences shared by their visitors.  To Hagler, the students care more about their guest’s career path more than they do about a person’s individual jobs and that their experiences, and their general likes and dislikes about their work are what are most impactful.

That makes sense.  A student can’t really be sure they want be an engineer when they don’t know what an engineer does.  They don’t know the software and programs they use or how to use them or they types of things they have to deal with on a daily basis.  But what they can relate to is a an engineer telling the kids what led them into the field they chose, why they chose it, stories of situations they face in their work and how they respond to them.  Hagler states, “They’re constantly looking for connections more than anything else.”

For example, students were totally engaged when they heard a veterinarian come in and share how, when he was 5 or 6 years old, he came across a dog in the road that was barely alive.  The boy and his mother took the dog to a vet to see if it could be saved.  From that moment on, the boy connected to all sorts of animals, and decided he wanted to do something in the veterinary field as a career.

The program sounds to be a great and successful experience.  Not only do the students get to hear about some possible careers they likely hadn’t previously considered, but the current workforce gets to build some rapport with the future one.  “They [simply] enjoy being able to talk with adults, to be honest,” says Hagler.  Now how about that?  What a concept.  I can’t wait to go to class!

If you’d be interested in speaking to Kasey’s students about your career path story, you can reach her at haglerk@grps.org.  Like she said, it’s extremely informal, and she promises the kids will have TONS of questions for you.

Fellow educators; what about YOU?  What are some things you’re doing around career readiness?  We would love to hear from you.  Send us your story at careerreadiness@kentisd.org.

Need Career Direction?

Figuring out what you “want to be when you grow up” is not always an easy process, but you are not alone on this life-long journey. There are all sorts of experts out there ready to assist you along the way.  We’ve gathered resources from a few of our favorite career gurus to share with you.  Check them out. You may end up identifying  a ‘next step’ on the journey, leading to a meaningful, satisfying, and bill-paying career.

What Color is Your Parachute for Teens
By Carol Christen

This best-selling book shows readers how to put together a blueprint for finding jobs that match their interests, and for getting the most out of high school and college in order to achieve their goals. Loaded with self-discovery exercises and valuable tips from the world’s best-selling job-hunting book, What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens delivers unparalleled guidance—not only for teens in search of a perfect career, but for the parents and counselors eager to inspire them.

Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What To Do with Your Life
By Brian McAllister and  Mike Marriner

Roadmap is the latest book by Roadtrip Nation. Rooted in the wisdom of more than 300 leaders, Roadmap is a comprehensive guide that can help readers realize their potential, determine their life goals and put their ideas into action. Roadmap is not a follow-your-passion manifesto or a dreamy chart to quick success, but a practical and comprehensive workbook that offers readers tips and unique ideas on how to incorporate their interests into their career and lead the life they envision for themselves. Every tip in the book is supported with a real-life example from working professionals.


My Next Move is an interactive tool for students and job seekers to learn more about their career options. My Next Move has occupation tasks, skills, salary information, and more for over 900 different careers.  Seriously. Any job you could possibly think of is listed, along with the salary, education requirements, typical day, etc.  Great  research tool!


Through a public television series, online resources, and an educational curriculum, Roadtrip Nation helps career-seekers connect to real-world professionals and discover pathways aligned with their interests. Roadtrip Nation empowers individuals to explore who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Great interviews!

Connect Explore Achieve

Kent Intermediate School District’s Career Readiness department offers a variety of job shadow programs for 9-12 students, including Explorers, Groundhog Shadow Day and Industry Tours.  We also provide a variety of services and resources to help educators develop students’ career maturity. Local employers work along-side us as partners in this endeavor.