Districts see Consortium as bridge to community
School districts participating in our Career Ready initiative are looking to the Consortium to serve its intermediary role in their work, connecting them to the business community and higher education and building a network that facilitates opportunities for students and educators.
Educators collaborated with the Consortium in October to continue laying a foundation for Career Ready. Among other things, the nine participating districts inventoried programs they already are offering to help their K-12 students prepare for post-secondary education and careers.
“Our goal for the day was to identify existing programming that has potential to be scaled up among multiple partners across the region and determine where our partners see opportunity gaps,” said the Consortium’s Executive Director Mary Kay Babyak.
Participants at the latest session held table discussions aimed at sharing career preparation ideas across districts and focusing on unmet needs in specific areas. Among the areas of focus were: building career awareness in elementary school; soft-skill development; professional development needs for educators and forming partnerships with higher education and business.
Representative of goals participants set were those at Allegheny Valley School District, which already has begun outreach to local corporations. The district is enlisting help from those companies to bring perspectives on career and workplace pathways and readiness both to students and educators, said Springdale High School Principal Michelle Walter. As part of Career Ready, her school is looking to do “a true phase three” of its career readiness initiative, involving professional development for educators, among other things. She noted that teachers frequently are a little reluctant about career mentoring with students because they have little exposure to workplaces outside the classroom themselves.
“What we find beneficial is networking and support from the Consortium to stay on track and build out our initiative,” Welter said.
Additionally, districts anticipate tapping programs the Consortium offers—including Student Powered Solutions (SPS), The Future Is Mine (TFIM) and College & Career Ready (CCK) and Power of Peers (POP)—to augment opportunities they offer students for exploring colleges, apprenticeships and career paths and developing the soft skills that can be as critical to success as academic achievement.