Consortium staffers to speak at SAS Institute Conference

Three Consortium staffers will be presenting at the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s upcoming annual SAS Institute Conference, which begins Sunday, December 8 at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center in Hershey, PA.

The theme for this year’s event is “Bridging the Skills Gap…A Pathway to Employability.”

In that context, Program Directors Aaron Altemus and Sarah Brooks will present twice on our Student-Powered Solutions (SPS) program, which partners with local employers around learning experiences that help students prepare for the workplace.

Separately, Program Director Christy Kuehn will team up with Jessica Trybus from Simcoach Games to discuss using video games to engage students in career learning.

Altemus and Brooks, who regularly lead PBL training sessions for educators, also oversee SPS, which will be both the focus of a breakout session and one of four PBL programs showcased during the luncheon presentations.

SPS pairs classrooms with companies willing to offer students real-world challenges as the basis for PBL assignments. By working in teams, students executing the projects develop soft skills needed in all workplaces.

Because of the corporate partnerships, SPS also can build opportunities for career exploration into some of its projects. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) earlier this year certified SPS projects incorporating career investigation opportunities as meeting state Work-Based Learning Experience standards for “job shadows.”

“SPS addresses career learning at a number of levels,” said Brooks. “We’re looking forward to letting other educators see both the power of this program and its replicability.”

In a separate presentation, Kuehn and Trybus will discuss a suite 36 video games that Simcoach developed for helping students with career discovery and exploration; identification of aptitudes; and/or career preparation and skills development. The company developed two of the games in collaboration with the Consortium.

“This medium appeals so much to kids, it should make the engagement part pretty easy,” Kuehn said.