You’re invited to KHHS Career Day

Kenowa Hills High School invites you to attend their upcoming Career Day event!  The event is intended to showcase the careers available at companies in West Michigan to their student base.  All industries and career pathways welcome!

Date: October 25, 2017
Time: 9AM – 1PM (set up begins at 8AM)
Location: Kenowa Hills High School Field House

Register to attend Kenowa Hills Career Day today!

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Kentwood is looking for presenters

Kentwood Public Schools is in the midst of seeking employer partners for their Fall/Winter 2017 STEM Immersion events.  KPS hosts this event each fall for every 5th grade student in an effort to expose students to the varied world and industries that science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) encompasses.  Want to know what the event looks like?  Check out this great School News Network article.

Nancy McKenzie, STEM Coordinator, is looking for industry partners who are willing “lead 3 breakout sessions of 25 minutes in length for any of the 4 events at which they choose to participate. We ask that they share information with our students regarding their companies and how STEM works within that company.  It is very helpful if there is some sort of hands-on learning activity for the students during the 25 minute sessions. “Show and tell” of any parts they manufacture, instruments or supplies they use,  computer programming they develop, etc. is always a popular part of each session.”

The STEM Immersion events will run from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM on September 15, October 20, November 17, and December 8.

Please consider joining this effort and reach out to Nancy to secure your spot; she can be reached at nancy.mckenzie@kentwoodps.org or (616) 455-1200 x32218.

Summer learning is important!

There are many wonderful opportunities for students in Kent County to extend their understandings and learn more about their own capabilities. Below you will find a listing of camps (BIG list linked at the very bottom) that ALL students can engage with. Please feel free to share this post with the parents and students in your circles, let’s keep those brains moving in the warm summer months ahead.

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DC2 (Design. Discover. Collaborate. Create)
June 27-28 9:00 AM-3:30 PM

Grand Valley University (Seidman Building – Downtown Campus)

DESIGNED FOR BOYS AND GIRLS ENTERING GRADES 5-6 in Fall 2017

COST: $25 per student

Led by at team of local K -12 educators, students will work in small groups to collaboratively tackle problems that connect to both their lives and the world around them, answering questions like:

  • How might we redesign our recess experience?
  • How might we re-purpose scrap material from a local manufacturer?
  • How might we re-engineer a classroom to better meet our needs as students?

The camp will also include local mentors from industry and high school student coaches. There will be opportunities for students to engineer solutions in a ‘maker’s space’ as they prototype and test their ideas. This is a great way for kids to stretch their thinking muscles this summer in a fun, collaborative, creative way as they harness the innovator within them. Visit this page to see a flyer and  this page to learn more/register!

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CAMP INFINITY
July 10-13, 8:30 AM-3:30 PM

Kent Innovation High School (1655 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525)

DESIGNED FOR GIRLS ENTERING GRADES 5-8 in Fall 2017

COST: $100 per student – scholarships available.

Camp Infinity is a four day summer technology camp for girls entering 5th to 8th grade that introduces technology as fun and fulfilling and inspires the pursuit of technology education. MCWT Foundation created it to address the primary reasons girls lose interest in technology: confidence, social relevance, and social (peer) acceptance. Visit this page for more information!

SUMMER LEARNING FOR ALL! 

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Finally, for a listing of MANY other summer learning opportunities in our area, visit this link.

Shifting the (K-12) Focus from Completion to Preparation

Last month, during a Career Readiness Network meeting, one item of discussion that came up revolved around whether post-secondary institutions are truly helping students to be successful. Or, for many, are they just a waste of time and money? What good is it if a student takes classes – whether at a university or their local community college – if they are taking 3, 4 and 5 remedial courses … before they even earn a single credit? What is the value of a student getting halfway down the road to some sort of credentialing (whether it be a certificate, an associate’s degree or more), only for them to drop out of a program they will never complete …. with a debt level that becomes an albatross around their neck?

And then, there are the exceptions to the rule. This March 2017 Detroit Free Press article highlights one Higher Ed institution, Sinclair Community College out of Dayton, Ohio, that apparently is. Rather than trying to get students IN the door only to see them fail, they’ve shifted their focus to completion rather than simply access. As a result, the percentage of students who have graduated, are still enrolled, or have transferred to another college/university has skyrocketed from around 33% to 79%.

This led me to think, what might this change in focus look like for K-12 Education?

Where did the change occur? Why in career exploration, of course. Students “do career services first thing.” School officials now have conversations with students about what they want to do as a career and help develop a customized plan for EVERY student to help them get there. For those who aren’t sure what they want to do, they join one of six big career communities until they figure it out.

This led me to think, what might this change in focus look like for K-12 Education? Instead of just trying to get students OUT the door (graduation), could a shift in focus from simply completion to preparation (intentional exploration) be the key? What if students were not only given time to investigate their interests, but were provided opportunities to see if there was a potential fit? What if, by the time students graduated, they better understood themselves and what they wanted to do for a living? And, what if they knew all the options available to them – and, as a result – the best pathway to get there?  How many hours of worry and thousands of dollars in debt might be spared for our young people?

Kent ISD’s Career Readiness Dept. firmly believes there are MULTIPLE pathways to a successful career (and we have the lesson to prove it). We don’t believe every student needs to get a four-year degree (or more).  Neither do we think every student is created for the skilled trades. What we DO believe is that every student SHOULD be able to figure out who they are, and where and how they fit into the world of work. And we also believe that it is our collective job – parents, educators, and business and community members alike – to help students in this journey to success.

Life holds a variety of options and pathways; students should explore as many of them as they can while they can to see what works for them. But, how will they know unless we tell them; and how will they see unless we SHOW them? With your help, we have begun the work toward making that the norm, rather than the exception.

Questions or comments? Share them in the section at the beginning of this article.

East Kentwood Invites You to STEM Fair 2017

I often hear business professionals wonder aloud what high schools are doing to prepare students for the world of work and the realities of post-secondary life.  East Kentwood High School is hosting their inaugural STEM Fair event on Thursday, May 18, 2017 and I encourage our business partners and higher education friends to make room in your calendar for this incredible event to get the answers to that question as well as provide feedback to EKHS teachers on the quality of student projects.  East Kentwood would love representatives from the business community to join them; lots of opportunities to see what kids are doing around research and development, design, STEM and more.  AP students from biology, physics, statistics, etc. will be featuring their research projects and will have hands-on demonstrations on the following topics and more:

  • Thermochemical Study of Handwarmer Chemistry and Handwarmer Design
  • Comparison of Digestive Systems Length to Showcase Evolutionary Relatedness
  • Seasonal Fluctuations in Water Quality for the EK Stream
  • Vitamin Effectiveness in Mus Musculus Memory Retention
  • Temperature Effects on Golf Ball Distance

Date: May 18, 2017
Time: 8AM – 2PM or 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: East Kentwood High School West Wing Gymnasium, 6230 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Kentwood, MI 49508

Nintendo, Tight-rolled Jeans & Career Development

It’s funny how Education (like life) is cyclical.  I remember when I first started teaching, as a wet-behind-the-ears rookie back in the Detroit area more than a decade and-a-half ago.  To help explain the era, No Child Left Behind legislation was JUST becoming the latest fad (for legislators, that is).  Words like “highly qualified” and “curriculum mapping” became the buzz words of the day.  And, as a young PE and Health teacher, I am willing to admit now that I started to panic and worry what it would mean (more for me than for the kids).

But I’ll never forget the response I received from the grizzled old art teacher.  He was beloved by the students, even though he’d been teaching for more than 30 years.  He told me, “Eric, this is nothing new.  It’s the same thing with different packaging.  They did the same basic programs 30 years ago; they just called it something different.”  What he was saying was that the latest and greatest ideas aren’t always all that new or fresh; they just have a fresh coat of paint on them with fancy new names or titles.  They might not be exactly the same thing.  In fact, they probably won’t be.  Oh, they’ll be touted as the next NEW thing, but in reality, they’ll simply be a distant and vague memory of something we’ve heard or seen done before.  Much like how the tight-rolled pants of the 80’s-90’s mimicked the 50’s and the newly released Nintendo Classic Mini mimics the 80’s-90’s.

How does this apply to Career Development?  For the past 20 years, give or take, our Education system has put a premium on students “getting a college degree” (by this, most take this to mean a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree).  We told students (and rightfully so) that if they wanted to have a good career, they needed to get a good education.  However, what was once a holistic approach to a solid, well-rounded, high school education – where students could explore their interests by trying different classes with their electives – has transformed to taking all the “right” courses necessary for a “college” degree, even for those students who have no interest in getting a four-year degree!  And if you don’t get a University degree, you’re somehow short-changing yourself.  Talk about students feeling defeated before they even walk through the doors!

Which brings us to today.  Now, in my current role, I’m definitely seeing the concept of Career Exploration and Career Development becoming the “next big thing.”  And I’m beginning to see other people nodding their head and agreeing with me when I say that “not every student needs a four-year degree, but every student needs some sort of post-high school training.”  And that there are some really great, high-paying jobs in the skilled trades that are just begging to be filled.  And that an Electrician’s license is just as valuable (actually more) as the Philosophy degree that’s sitting on the shelf but not being used.  OK, I haven’t said that last one before, but maybe I will now.

But that’s just it.  This whole idea of exploring careers and finding out what one is passionate about while still in high school  isn’t really all that new.  Neither is the idea that there are multiple pathways to a great career, and not ALL of them require a four-year degree.  Nope, it’s just a repackaging of another idea from long ago.

Tell us what you think.  Leave a comment at the TOP of the article.