Helping High School Students Prepare for Careers: The New Career Schools

Choosing a career path is a big decision.  Choosing a field of interest early on can help motivate high school students and allow them to plan what courses to take so that they will be well prepared for college.

Numerous vocational programs now exist to give high school students a leg up on the career path.  The more traditional are designed to give students vocational training so that they will have skills to enter the workplace upon graduating high school, but newer programs are aimed at introducing students to careers by giving them hands-on experience in jobs such as teaching and medical careers.

Teaching Experience

In Texas a program called Ready, Set, Teach!  is offering many high school students hands-on teaching experience.  Cy-Fair and Katy ISD are some of the school districts offering this program.

Ready, Set, Teach! is a Family and Consumer Sciences elective.  Students are assigned to assist mentor teachers on elementary and middle school campuses for two hours, three days a week.  Students love the hands on experience and are able to encourage children, while learning valuable skills themselves.  The Cy-Fair district aims to expand the program to all ten of its high schools.

The program is open to juniors and seniors in high school.  Students must pass rigorous standards to enter the program.  The first six weeks of the semester are spent in training, learning classroom management skills and so on.  It’s a great day when eager teens finally get to work with the young students.

In Cy-Fair, the Human Resources department assists the students in the program, giving them tips on starting a resume using their new experience.  The Human Resource department plans to keep track of these students, in hopes of one day employing some of them.

The supervising teacher of the Cy-Fair program, Sue Silhanek says “I like the fact that we’re keeping the door open for them to come back.  I look forward to a few years from now when students come back and ask for references.  When it all comes back to us, it’s not just about hiring a teacher, but hiring a teacher who knows the Cy-Fair way.”

Health Science Careers

High school students are also exposed to health science careers through many new programs.  Another Texas school,  Katy’s Miller Career and Technology Center offers opportunities for students to gain experience through clinical rotations as pharmacy aides at local hospitals, as well as other opportunities.  Students thinking of a variety of medical careers take advantage of the opportunity to get a taste of what the medical field is like.

 Other opportunities

In all Miller Career and Technology Center has ten career academies which provide training in job skills students can use upon graduating from high school as well as opportunities to explore careers they may like to pursue in college, such as business, technology, culinary arts, engineering, architectures, arts, and communications.  The program is available to students from any of Katy’s high schools.  Many programs work in conjunction with the local business community.

Across the county, local school districts are devising a number of new programs to give teens career experience.  For students with a strong interest in one field, such as medicine, career high schools dedicated to that field are a great boon.  In Oregon, the Beaverton School District features the Health and Science School for sixth to twelve grade students; the school is small with small classes dedicated to bringing out the individual potential in each student, while encouraging them to develop advanced skills in math and science.  Each student will have one teacher who will work with them throughout the six year program as an advisor.  The school focuses on the medical and engineering fields; Beaverton is also proud to have a middle school dedicated to environmental science.  The Rachel Carson Environmental School offers innovative projects and rigorous academics to prepare students for high school and beyond.  The school is open to interested students in the sixth through eighth grade; this year Rachel Carson Environmental School took part in the Women in Science Day to encourage girls to consider careers in science.

Conclusion

If you are the parent of a middle school or high school student check out all the options your school district has to offer.  Begin by talking with teachers and looking at district websites.  Whether your student is struggling to make the grade or is academically gifted there are many intriguing programs now available to help them make the most of their school years.  Many of these programs allow them to earn college credit for free while in high school. 


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