The Consortium began piloting Future Ready Leaders (FRL) this spring to bring student voice to the future readiness programming school districts have undertaken, while giving participating students leadership opportunities.
For several years, districts have been refining their programming to fulfil career and work learning standards reflected in the “Future Ready Index” that Pennsylvania implemented in 2018.
Taking a project-based approach, FRL brings students to the table to work alongside educators examining and helping expand opportunities in their respective districts.
“Students can help districts improve career learning experiences or fill in holes that adults may not immediately perceive,” said Program Director Jennifer Sethman, who organizes FRL in collaboration with Program Directors Gina Barrett and Aaron Altemus. “At the same time, by working with peers and alongside educators, they’re becoming more future-ready themselves because this kind of team collaboration helps them develop transferrable leadership skills while expanding their school’s capacity.”
FRL is aimed at students in grades 9-12. Teams consist of three educators in each school, working with a minimum of four to five students.
The teams choose among three areas of focus for assisting their districts. The areas include career exploration and student plans, skill building, and work-based learning and partnerships.
For example, one team has begun a review of the state’s Career Education and Work Standards with a view toward benchmarking district programming and identifying areas for improvement. Another district team is using a career fair to create opportunities for students to reflect on their experience and collect artifacts that the state requires as documentation of career learning.
As part of the program, adults and students also participate in separate professional development workshops where they can exchange ideas across districts.