Ed here. Wow, it’s been chilly lately! With all this snow and the heating bills climbing, my mind wanders to the students who are at this very moment preparing for their future jobs so that someday they can afford to pay their own bills. I know that those of you who are working with the fine youth of our region are working towards equipping all of your students for the “realworld”. There are so many things to consider when working towards this goal and the schools in the NWESD region are leading the charge in making this happen. While visiting schools in San Juan, Island, Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties, I have seen the progress towards melding academic education and career readiness into practical preparation for students. Steps that are helping to prepare them for the workforce. (I am grateful because it is helping Ed Jr. learn skills so he can start pitching in for the heating bill). I witnessed firsthand the efforts so many educators are making, and I am so impressed with what is being done in our region.
One career readiness event that took place was called “STEM Like Me!” At Sedro Woolley’s Cascade Middle School, four business mentors with experience in STEM-related careers came to speak to students about their occupations. The mentors provided hands-on stations at which students got the chance to practice a few aspects of the job. Some workstations included: Hammering open Geode rocks, learning about engines, and using a manual resuscitator on a mechanical baby. These stations were so valuable because the students were able to immediately see the results of their learning.
Another exciting example was that Concrete School district’s eighth-grade class got personalized tours of Bellingham Technical College (BTC) during “Try-a-Trade Day”. During this event, I saw dozens of schools and hundreds of students from all over the NWESD and beyond learn about many of the 55 certificate programs and 38 associate degrees offered at BTC. At “Try-a-Trade Day” I observed students from La Conner and Ferndale High Schools learning hands-on skills like how to use plastic and spot welders, along with virtual painting machines.
Seeing so many of our schools focus on career readiness warms my heart (if only the snow would let the rest of me get warm!) Blaine High School weathered the cold and hosted an impressive career fair with dozens of vendors. Before the event, many teachers guided their students in researching the companies that were going to be there, causing the student/business interactions to be more memorable and meaningful. Lynden High School is working on a career fair to connect their students with the right opportunity at the right time. What that means for Lynden is a career fair shortly before school gets out for the summer. This event will help connect work-ready students to businesses who can employ them. Many schools including Snohomish counties’ Meadowdale High are partnering with the NWESD to teach students valuable Pre-Employment Transition Skills (Pre-ETS). This effort to give students the extra support they need to successfully progress from school to work is helping them realize that their goals are within reach.
The activities I listed show just a snapshot of what is being accomplished in our region, for our kids…your kids. The focus on Career Readiness has been just one more thing that has shown school efforts to give every student a bright future. The students served today will reach their career goals in the future because of your willingness to care about each one of them as individuals. Educators, you can be sure that when they become successful adults who pay their own bills, the students will look back and appreciate how your career was all about helping them figure out theirs.
Keep up the good work!