Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Helping Students Plan for Success!" - Rhonda Schaar, Principal at South Middle School.Rhonda Schaar, Principal at South Middle School.

Rhonda Schaar, Principal at
South Middle School.
Many 6th grade students aren’t thinking about graduation and beyond. However as adults, one of our responsibilities is to lead them in a direction that will prepare them for the best possible future. This involves early planning and guidance that continues into their High School career and beyond. At Greenville Middle School we have quite a variety of opportunities to help guide students into possible career choices. These experiences begin early in school and build upon that guidance in the fifth and sixth grade. As a district, state, and society it is essential to guide our children into a pathway of choices for their future that includes specific job training, a variety of educational opportunities and is based on the needs, as well as interest, of the whole child.

The Greenville City Schools’ Board of Education has outlined the priority of career advising in a policy that aligns with new state law. The proposed policy describes career advising as “helping students understand themselves relative to their abilities, aptitudes, interests, attitudes, strengths and their decisions relating to educational and career matters.”(IJA) Currently, teachers, counselors and administrators from grades 6-12 are assisting students in gaining career knowledge, experiences and developing Student Success Plans (SSP). The Student Success Plan is just one part of a whole process to guide students through options and choices allowing school graduation to become the stepping stone needed for a successful future. These plans are becoming more formalized and relevant to the changing needs of our student population as well as aligning with state expectations. Beginning in fifth grade, this process becomes focused on individual student needs as each child progresses through their school journey. This process, along with documentation of career exploration, assists students in choosing from available options and allows them to create the most appropriate pathway toward an individual career and life plan.

At Greenville Middle School the teachers provide surveys and inventories that help the students become aware of individual learning styles, preferences of acquiring information and a variety of tools to make learning accessible for each child. Learning becomes meaningful and purposeful when students understand how they learn and teachers apply that to the instruction being taught. The connection between curriculum and careers is essential. As students become aware of interests, learning styles and aptitudes throughout the fifth and sixth grade, teachers provide a variety of opportunities in which children can begin the process of “thinking” about future careers connected to their strengths and interests.

Specifically, in the fifth grade, teachers design a research project that applies many academic skills acquired throughout the year based on the Ohio Learning Standards. This project requires students to research a career that is aligned with their skills and interests based on an online inventory completed by each student. The students then spend a few weeks researching that career in depth and write a research paper based on specifics to the researched career which include the education needed, salary, benefits, etc. The fifth grade students also participate in an annual health fair in which medical careers and jobs are highlighted through an exploratory approach. The students are highly engaged and interested in exploring the different options offered at an age-appropriate level. The fair is held each spring at the Darke County Fairgrounds.

During the sixth grade year, the opportunities for students include the use of a variety of interest, learning style as well as personality style inventories. Children are becoming more aware of the world around them and their role in it. As students grow and achieve we recognize the necessity in guiding their interests to a logical path that will encourage reflections of opportunities. At this grade level, opportunities for learning about potential careers have included; guest speakers from Edison about educational and career choices, guest speakers from specific careers, social studies economic projects, activities such as the FETCH program (Financial Education Teaches Children Healthy Habits) and the annual Bridges to College visit to Edison in Piqua.

Bridges to College is a Darke County non-profit organization helping in the student's journey from high school to college; “by providing educational programming, advising, and needs-based scholarships to high school students.” ( Though the program is based in Greenville, it assists Ansonia and Greenville High School students and their parents navigate the complicated waters of secondary education and career choices. “Bridges to College believes that educated citizens are the basis of a prosperous local economy and are the foundation of the future high quality of life in Darke County.” From early awareness programs in second grade to college clubs at the high school level, Bridges to College supports the youth of Darke County by promoting the best possible future for each child. At the sixth grade level Bridges to College supports an annual field trip to the Edison Campus in Piqua. The students are provided the opportunity to explore multiple degree choices and the careers aligned with those degrees. There are activities, games and information to encourage the students in beginning the process of choosing a path for their future in an informed manner.

The opportunities afforded in the fifth and sixth grade at Greenville Middle School are steps in the journey children take to become productive citizens with employable skills. It is the natural path taken to honor the task given to the school district by our Board of Education and community. We will educate students based on each child’s needs and encourage a greater understanding of themselves as they plan for a successful and productive future. Though most fifth and sixth graders aren’t thinking beyond the next ten minutes there’s a plan in place in Greenville City Schools to facilitate their growth, achievement and future success.

Those interested in additional information regarding tools and support for career exploration should investigate the online resources available through the Ohio Department of Education. OhioMeansJobs K-12 is one highly recommended planning tool for information.

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