Wise Up! Get the Word Out on this New Scholarship.

Students want to be recognized.  They NEED to be recognized.  Often, of course, they’re recognized for the wrong sort of things.  Of course, there’s a lot of GREAT things kids get recognized for too.  But, not too often are teachers, counselors, and fellow students able to recognize kids in a way that provides tangible opportunities too.  Not too often are the talented – but not THAT talented” – recognized.  Until now.

Local businessman Al Hight, who spent a long and productive career in the military shared with me that he wasn’t on the “straight and narrow” growing up.  But someone invested in him and helped him when he really needed it.  After he graduated he enlisted into the military … and flourished.  What he promised himself was that some day, when he had the means and opportunity, he would give back to the community that gave back to him.  Now he’s putting his money where his mouth (and mind) is.  Al is the singular driving force behind Wise Up, a student life recognition scholarship aimed at noticing student achievement in a broad range of categories including: Academics, Athletics, Leadership, Visual Arts, Performing Arts/Theater, Music, and Community Service.

Hight spoke at Calvin College during the West Michigan Counseling Association Fall Conference.  As he shared about this inaugural award, the goal is for students to look for and nominate their fellow classmates who they think stand out in one (or more) of the categories above.  This isn’t necessarily a scholarship for the “usual suspects”: the coolest, smartest, or most gifted.  Of course, they’re eligible just like everyone else.  But this award is meant to celebrate the hard-working, well-rounded students.

Counselors need to sign up their schools to participate and will meet with Wise Up representatives on how to enlist and pare down student nominations.  Students from around the county will be selected to attend the awards gala held at Frederick Meijer Gardens on March 21, where 7 students will be selected (one for each category) to receive a $5,000 scholarship for furthering their education and talents.

Registration for the scholarships are now open and nominations run through January.  For more information, visit wiseupawards.org.

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Circle Your Calendars!

TEACHERS IN INDUSTRY (Thursday, October 12, 8:00-3:00 pm)
Our first Teachers IN Industry event of the 2017-18 school year is now open!  Come with us as we see 3 different sides of the construction industry. We’ll visit an actual job site, meet with a company at their corporate office to see what happens behind the scenes, and hear/see how a local educational institution trains people for work in the industry.  Don’t miss this event! We’re aiming for 60 people to attend the only TII event this fall!

Ever hear students ask, “When are we going to use this in the real world?” Have you ever wondered, in turn, “How do I best answer that, because I’m not really sure?” If you answered yes to either question, then Teachers in Industry (TII) this is the “field trip” for you! Teachers, counselors, and administrators alike are all welcome! And teachers, we’ll pay for substitute reimbursement, up to $100! To sign up for TII, or for more information about the event, look them up on the PD Hub under Career Readiness, or visit us on our website. If you still need some convincing, check out our promo video!

STEM Network (Wednesday & Thursday, November 1 & 2, 8:00-3:00 pm)
Looking for a way to get your STEM fix? Join us for our BRAND NEW network – the STEM Network. We’ve packed so much stuff into this program that we had to make it two days! Participate in a series of interactive experiences under the theme “Connect, Explore, Achieve” where teachers visit local businesses to explore how they use educational content in industry; work with like-minded peers to develop engaging, standards-based real-world lessons that enable student success; and learn what other districts are doing in the world of STEM. This isn’t just a training; this is an EVENT.  Don’t miss out!

To register for the STEM Network, find it on the PD HubOr, reach out to one of the STEM Consultants, Ebiri (ebirinkugba@kentisd.org) or Rick (rickmushing@kentisd.org) for more information.

Are You Curious About STEM?

If you’re curious about STEM education, what it means, and what you should know; you may be interested in our upcoming STEM Network. Read on…

Connect. Explore. Achieve. This two-day, interactive experience will give classroom teachers the opportunity to explore how area businesses use your content areas in industry. Draw connections between what you’ve seen and how you can teach your standards. Develop relevant, real world lessons you can use with your students to help them achieve success. Use group dynamics with like-minded teachers to build engaging content tied to the world of work. Come see what other districts are doing in STEM and imagine what the future can hold for your students. A portion of each event will involve a trip to a local business to observe and glean inspiration from current business practices. Sign up at the Kent ISD PD Hub (search for course number 17CR1101).

Two meetings (2 days each) are planned for the 17-18 School Year:

November 1-2; March 21-22 8am-3pm

Outcomes will include:
Educators will discover resources that can be used in their classroom(s)
Educators are part of a support system that encourages use of discovered resources
Educators consistently connect their classroom content to the world of work; answering the question, “When am I ever going to use this?”

Final Call for 2016-17: Circle Your Calendars!

TEACHERS IN INDUSTRY (Thursday, May 18, 8:00-3:00 pm)
Teachers, counselors and administrators this is an equal-opportunity event. Our last regular Teachers IN Industry of the school year will be held next Thursday, the 18th. Haven’t been in a while? Come check us out. Been there, done that? Let a colleague know what a cool experience it is and encourage them to come. Better yet, come and bring your friend! SCECHs are available, lunch is provided, and as usual, teachers, we’ll pay for substitute reimbursement, up to $100! For our swansong event of 2016-17, we’ll get a chance to meet with Swoboda (mechatronics & manufacturing), Erhardt Construction, and start-up company Fathom (underwater drones). Hurry and sign up; there’s still room. To register, go to the event page on the PD Hub, or visit us on our website. If you still need some convincing, check out our promo video!

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.

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.