Delivering Work-Based Learning in Rural Schools

Welcome, everyone. We’ll get started now. This is REL Central’s webinar,
“Delivering Work-Based Learning in Rural Schools,
Opportunities and Options.” My name’s Douglas
Gagnon, and I’m a senior researcher at
Marzano Research, where we host the REL Central contract, and I’ll be facilitating
this webinar along with my colleague,
Doug Van Dine, who’s also a senior researcher here. At this point, I’ll just share
a little bit of background in how this webinar came about. So, as I mentioned, this is
being hosted by REL Central. We’re one of 10 regional
education laboratories around the country
that are funded by U.S. Department of Education’s
Institute for Education Sciences. So, we work in a
seven-state region that includes Wyoming, Colorado,
North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. And within this region, we
provide technical support, conduct applied research,
and disseminate research as necessary. And within REL Central, we host
the Rural Education Research Alliance. We can go to the next slide. So, this is one of a number
of research alliances at REL Central. And essentially, it’s a group
of projects across the region that’s shared by – that is united by
the shared goal of trying to address
challenges in rural schools. And, traditionally, in the Rural
Education Research Alliance we’ve focused on areas
of teacher recruitment and retention and looking
at opportunity gaps. Although, speaking
with stakeholders throughout our region,
it became clear that work-based learning was an
area of interest and something that people wanted
to learn more about. So, it was partly
through conversations with our regional
partners in this alliance that this came about. And I know that we have a
couple members from the alliance participating today. So welcome to them as well. So, with an overview of
what’s in store today, we’ll start with
introducing our presenters. From there, we’ll
discuss basically what is work-based learning,
when it’s being implemented, what are some of the delivery
challenges with doing so – particularly in rural areas. We’ll introduce
some frameworks that can be helpful when implementing
work-based learning. And then we’ll hear from
a couple of presenters that are on the ground implementing
work-based learning, and they’ll share their
experiences with it. So with that, we’ll
go to introductions. Our first presenter is
going to be Steve Klein. Next slide. Steve Klein is the Director for
the Center for School, Family and Community. And Steve brings a wealth
of experience in the career, and technical education, and
workforce readiness field in general. We’ll also have Neal Wolf. Neal Wolfe is an agriculture
instructor at Grand River Technical School in Missouri. So, he will share his
experiences there, as will Sarah Bird, who is
Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Director at Boone
Central Schools in Nebraska. And again, myself
and Doug Van Dine are facilitating this webinar. So, with that, I will turn
things over to Steve Klein. Take it away, Steve. STEVE KLEIN: Great,
thanks very much. Hello, everyone. I wanted to share with
you a quick story that gives a sense of how work-based
learning, when it’s not done well, can manifest. And then take you through the
framework for how it can be. So many years ago, that
would be about three, my oldest son, who at
the time was a junior, was working at a
climbing gym in our area. It was after school. It wasn’t connected to any
of the school curriculum. And basically, he was
a junior working with – it’s a climbing gym, so
these are college students, and students who were – or people who were taking
some time in between. So he was the
youngest one there. Well, he went to
the holiday party. And it was about 11 o’clock. It was a school night,
and he wasn’t back. And so I texted him, and said,
when are you coming home? Oh, soon. 11:30, nothing. When you coming home? Soon. 11:45 – well, we’re
trying to get a ride. Well, you know at about
close to 1:00 in the morning, he finally showed up. And my wife walked down to
meet him at the front door. And she came back,
and she said, well… Colleen, I said, what’s up. She said, he seems a
little unfocused, but – and I kind of smell alcohol,
but I sent him to bed. Well, the next
morning, I’m at work and at 9:00 in the
morning I get a text from my wife, that says, so we
have a very sad and repentant child this morning. And a word to the wise, don’t
throw up in a wire wastebasket. So I came home from work, and
he’s stretched out on the sofa. We made him go to school. And he was hard to see,
because it was a green sofa. And I said, what happened? And he said, well, they
started serving this drink, and it was called
a White Russian. And it was really good,
so I had 10 of them. So we had a conversation about
what it means to be working and what it means to be working
with people older than one. And we also talked a
little bit about the job. And what he really learned
from this whole experience was he never wanted to clean
another toilet again. And he was never going to drink. Now, that’s probably a
lot to ask from a kid. But we were happy to hear
the latter part, at least. So he experienced a
work-based learning that was not connected to school
and wasn’t very structured. And it didn’t really
work out all that well. So, what is work-based learning? Well, what you see on
the screen right now is the federal definition
for what constitutes work-based learning. It’s from the
Perkins legislation. And I think, simply
put, what it’s saying is we learned by doing,
that having an opportunity to be out in the field, and
seeing, and experiencing is a great way to learn. And that context matters. How the instruction
is delivered, and how those interactions
occur, are really important. It’s not just about putting
someone out in the field, and saying, go do. So. What is nice, is
kind of nice here, you see on the screen,
some of the research behind work-based learning. And what it – what I kind
of read is that it supports what’s probably pretty much
common sense to most of us – that students who participate
in work-based learning are more likely to be prepared
for the workforce entry and to be more
engaged in school. And you can see,
these references are – you’ll be able to download
those afterwards if you’d like, with the slides. But they really lay out, in
terms of the first bullet, some of the outcomes that
have been identified, with the idea that work-based
learning prepares students for the workforce, that it also
allows them to be a little more motivated, both at the
worksite, but also in school – increased attendance
and lower dropout rates. Now, there’s a lot
more out there. But I think that, really,
these examples or some of what the research says, is
behind work-based learning, why we should do it. But the second
bullet is really more about the intentionality
behind it, that there needs to be
a structure to the way that the programs are
offered, that the curriculum needs to be integrated in, the work-based
curriculum, has to be integrated in with the
classroom curriculum. There has to be a
purpose behind this. And it should be connected
to the real world. It should be authentic. So, essentially, in terms
of that structure, I guess one of the things I
think that is really important, and if you don’t leave this
call with anything else, it’s that work-based
learning isn’t dichotomous. It’s not a yes/no
checkbox, you did it. If it’s going to be
authentic and if it’s going to have
meaning, then there should be a holistic approach
to work-based learning. And I don’t think there’s any
one right way of doing it, but on your screen,
you can see a continuum of work-based learning options. It was put together by
a colleague, of FHI 360 in ConnectED. And it lays out the ways that the strategies
that work-based learning can be offered, you can see that – one of the interesting
pieces here is that it can be
offered in any grade. And those grades
are approximations. But essentially, it starts, it should be progressive. It’s an experience that starts
with career awareness, where students learn what is work? What does it even
mean to be working? Career exploration,
where students begin then to look at the
different types of careers that are out there. And that’s often in
the middle grades. And with Perkins
reauthorization, in Perkins 5, it is now expanded. Funding can be used in
grades five to eight. Career preparation,
what we tend to think of as the actual
gaining of skills, and with programs of study being
able to connect post-secondary and employment. And then the actual
career training, where you get very specific. We all know that we’re no
longer expecting students to graduate and get a job, that there is going to
be a need to get some sort of advanced
education, secondary students. So, looking at grades 13 plus. And then along the bottom, is
the continuum of experiences, starting with what can
be very light touches, such as workplace tours
or guest speakers. And then extending
all the way up through on the site training,
paid work experiences, or unpaid work experience. And in between, there’s
a whole host of areas. This isn’t to suggest
that workplace tours are only appropriate in grades K-4, rather that this is a
continuum of approaches and that one wants to
start with a lighter touch and move towards a progressively
more rigorous experience. States are in the process of
taking some of these continuum ideas and applying them. An example of what a framework
looks like in Kansas, is they have taken
that work-based learning continuum and using
that as a way of publicizing to the field. You can see that career
awareness, career exploration, career preparation,
and again, examples within there of how
career awareness, career exploration, and career
preparation can be offered. So for example, career awareness
could be something as simple as a guest speaker
or career fair. But then moving up to, in
the career preparation, service learning, internships. So there are stories out there. And I’m going to be
sharing with you later in the presentation
some examples from some of your own states,
that may look familiar. But first, I wanted
to take a quick poll of where you stand with
respect to work-based learning. And we have two questions. The first is, what work-based
learning options do you offer students? On your screen, if you
scroll to the bottom, you’ll see there’s a Q&A box. And if you go to the Q&A
box, and click on it, you’ll be able to answer,
type in, comments. And what I’d like
to just start with, get a sense of what
work-based learning options do you currently
offer to your students. So if you could
take a minute or two and start typing in what
work-based learning options you currently are
offering your students. Internships, apprenticeships,
and clinicals. Anyone else? Project search, apprenticeships. Here we go, job
shadowing, career fairs. Yeah, so a lot of
cooperative work experience – mentorships… We offer none. So tours, job shadows – great. Youth apprenticeship, work-based
co-ops through the town, job shadowing, volunteers, good. Job fairs, volunteering,
mentorship tours, job shadow. So we have a real
range of the continuum. It was noted that Wisconsin
offers a continuum that starts with the
light touch and moves towards progressively more. So, you can see that teacher internships, really
great program, so that teachers learn a little bit
more about what it means for students to work. Guest speakers, so, great –
co-op with experience. Oh, a coffee shop
in your school. That would be addictive
for some of us. So what I’d like to
do then is ask you the next question, which
is, what’s the biggest challenge you face in
offering work-based learning to students? So go ahead there and type
in some of the challenges that you face. Transportation, someone’s
reading from my notes. Living in a small community. Hence the rural conversation,
and we’ll be hopefully touching on some ideas around that. We have some great examples
from people in the field. Relevant placements to train. Payment, businesses that
will cooperate – great point. Enough employers,
quality opportunities. We just need to start it. Collecting data – oh,
great – student level data. We’ll talk a little bit about
that and the experience. Matching students, correct,
yeah, that’s a tough one. Time and proximity, rural,
insurance coverage – great point, we’ll talk
a little bit about that. Not allowing– yes, the
age 17 and under – putting students in the worksite. Resources in a tiny –
again, tiny town. Curriculum, framework
is weak, great, okay – supervision, yes, wonderful. Well, we’re going to come
back to a lot of this. So, very few businesses – Okay. Really great points here. And we’re going to – we’re
going to be able to compile these to look at some of these. So wanted to talk now – you can keep on typing,
because this is great. But I wanted to also now talk
a little bit about – well, what are then the goals of work-based
learning in a quality program. And not surprisingly,
a lot of this is going to be about
the skills, it’s the academic, technical,
and employability skills. I think that’s one of
the places we always go to, is that a good work-based
learning program allows students to take the skills
that they’re learning in the classroom and then
apply them in a work setting and see the relevance. But one of the – I just had a sort of an
epiphany not too long ago. I was working with
Portland Public Schools, and meeting with their advisor,
their placement advisor. And he was talking
about the idea that students are
only really thinking about academic, technical,
and employability skills. But one of the pieces that’s
missing is the connections. So not only is it to learn about
the career options that are out there, because you go out
there and you can see it, but to actually
build relationships with people who are in
the field – that sort of social capital if you will. And so work-based learning
provides students, particularly those who may not have
a large social network through their
parents or guardians, a way of building relationships. The opportunity to see
people in the real world, how they operate. And really, an
important point here is to become aware of the
post-secondary education and training needs to
get to the next level. Not all students
have a real sense – the problem with life is
it’s all experimental. There’s very little control. And so we’re kind of
going through life without an understanding of all
the options that are out there. And so students who go
out in the work base and see, and build
relationships with people, also get a sense of what
do we need to do next. Well, there are challenges. And we just heard – and
they’re still coming in, I love this. Very few businesses,
work-based… But you know really, what
we’re talking about here is that if it’s so
positive an experience, why aren’t we doing more of it? And as many of you
have pointed out, there’s a lot of
challenges with policies, for example, that limit the
academic credit for students who take activities
outside the building. You don’t have a teacher
that’s endorsed, necessarily, out there. And so having a way of getting
students credit for that can be challenging. We heard the transportation
costs and busing limitations. This is true across the board. Getting an opportunity to get
students out and in the field takes resources. And that has a cost
associated with it, as well as sort of limitations
in terms of geographically how far you have to be able
to get students out there. Scheduling constraints, the
tyranny of the master schedule, having a time provided so that
students can get out there and actually spend
an amount of time that’s more than a short
period at a site, when you factor in the transportation. We heard there was something
about liability insurance, the difficulty of
putting students out into the field when there are
not a lot of opportunities that are sort of safe, if
you will, in some cases, in terms of manufacturing,
for example, the danger. The employer relationship
is a tough one. Teachers don’t necessarily have
relationships with the employer community. And so if you don’t
have those connections, and it’s not like teachers –
as a former teacher myself, it’s not like teachers
are sitting around in the teacher’s lounge in
between classes reading. They’re grading papers, they’re
dealing with student issues, personal issues. They’re dealing with
pedagogical issues. So it’s really hard for
teachers to find the time to build these relationships,
particularly because they’re outside the building. And then the concern
over student performance, often it’s the case that people
don’t want to put students out to an employer who’s
willing to participate if the student’s not
going to do a good job and because they don’t want
this school to look bad. So there’s a lot of
challenges in terms of how to get the students
involved in work-based learning. But we’re here to talk a
little bit more about rural. And one of the points
that was brought up by a number of people
was the community not having necessarily an
economic base to support providing the services,
the distance that exists trying to get students
from school to an employer – particularly if you don’t have
a lot of employers right nearby. Issues around the career and
technical education program options, that you don’t always
have a program or programs that lend themselves to
work-based learning easily, or a scope of programs that
would be able to get students across to many different
types of employers. You can’t put all of your
students in one site. And then, the teacher
experience and the ability to learn about this. It’s hard. A lot of rural sites have
turnover of educators. And that can make
it difficult, not only to establish
the relationships, but also to have people
who’ve had enough workplace experience in enough depth
to be able to offer students a placement and
structured one at that. And not surprisingly, then, if
we look at some of the research that’s out there, in terms
of what’s being offered and by whom, you can see
that this is an example – this is from a report
by the National Center for Education Statistics. And what they did is
they surveyed public school districts that were
offering various types of work-based
learning activities as part of their career and
technical education program. And they looked at the
types of opportunities that were being offered, the
type of work-based learning opportunities. And you can see
the legend there. The city is the cross hatch. Gray is suburban. Yellow there is town. And blue-ish is rural. And really, and
not surprisingly, although all of these work-based
learning opportunities are being offered,
rural sites tend to have the greatest
challenges offering. For example, with respect to
mentoring by local employers, nationally 65% of sites
offer some sort of mentoring. And at the city level, 87% of sites
offer some sort of mentoring, yet only 55% of rural sites
are able to offer that program. So it’s definitely the
case, and many of you who are typing in the
challenges you’re facing, those are those are fairly
well documented by you, as well as the survey results,
that rural sites have a hard time delivering
because the challenges, not only that all sites
face, but in particular those for rural sites, who
are separated often from opportunities. So. Spoke earlier that
work-based learning should not be seen as a
dichotomous experience. And in fact, what
you really need is a framework to ensure that
high quality experience exists. It’s not enough for
students to just show up. So when we talk about a
framework, what do we mean? Well, one is that we have to
come up with a terminology that we use to describe
work-based learning. Because we have sort of the
potential for a Tower of Babble here. You have educators who
speak one language. You have employers
who speak another. And we’re asking
them to collaborate. And so it’s really important
that as part of a framework we come up with a common
understanding of what it means to offer work-based
learning, and what are all the specific
elements of that. We need to know what constitutes
a meaningful engagement and at what grade level. So the qualifying
experiences, we really need to be clear on what
constitutes what we would consider a work-based
learning experience and obviously, the
terminology around that. The connections, the
instructional connections – there has to be a
way of integrating students’ experiences,
both in the classroom into the workplace, as well
as from the workplace back into the classroom. If students are just going
out and working somewhere and there’s no connection to
what they’re doing in school, some of the research that
we saw earlier probably won’t apply, that students
are more motivated, because they’re not necessarily
seeing the connections, nor are they understanding
why they’re bothering. Fidelity – how we saw before
the idea of assessment. How is it that program quality
is going to be assured? So how is it that when
we’re putting a student out there we know that the student
is actually experiencing something and the
employer is working in concert with the educator,
and not at cross purposes? We don’t want students
showing up and then being told to mop the floor. And then the assessment
piece, if students don’t see a connection,
and in some cases if they can get either academic
credit, or in some cases even a certification,
if it’s part of that, but there has to be some
authentic way of assessing the student experiences, not
only for themselves, but also for their educators. They have to be seeing that
there’s meaning behind it. So the good news is, there
are lots of tools out there. What I’ve tried to
do is I’ve identified two sets of resources that I
think is worth knowing about. One is by the U.S.
Department of Education, the Office of Career
Technical and Adult Education, OCTAE, has a work-based
learning toolkit that my team actually helped
develop a few years back. And what it does
is it lays out what are the components of
work-based learning, how you can go about creating
the work-based learning strategy, resources around
how to engage employers to collect the data, and then
finally, to scale the programs. And if you click on the
link at you’ll see that this
site is available to you. You’re able to click through it
and gather the resources that are available there
and put together by researchers, from looking
at across the continuum. The other place
that I’ll steer you is the Work-Based Learning
Manual, A How-To Guide for Work-Based Learning. This was put together by my good
friend Ivan Charner and Robin White at FHI 360. And it lays out a
set of activities, starting with introduction
and culminating with teacher externships. And for each of these
modules, there’s an overview of what
we mean by the area, how to implement this,
an implementation timeline, and then resources. And what’s really nice
about the resources is that, in the right-hand
column for each of these, there’s anywhere from
8 to 12 resources that are downloadable. So for example, for guest
speakers, there are forms, there are email examples,
there are checklists. There’s a timeline for
how to engage and work with these individuals. Great resource and
for those of you who just need to do it, as
someone mentioned, here’s a place where you can begin
to gather that information and put it out in
a structured way. And it’s important also
that when you do the work, you think about your own state. Many states, though not
all, have frameworks that they’ve developed. So some of what you saw
in terms of that framework I had before, that terminology
and so forth, they exist or they’re there in pieces. And so one way to
also get started, not only to look at
the national context, but to see what’s available
in your own state. Can you look for examples
that are in other states, and then use this information
to come up with your own ideas and resources? I want to really stress, there’s
no one right way to do this. But I think you’re
all on this call because you recognize
this is common sense. Students learn
best when they are able to apply what they’re
learning in the classroom. And when it’s
integrated in, and done in an intentional,
thoughtful way, it can benefit the student. Frankly, it benefits
the teacher and it can benefit the employer. So with that, I’m going to
open this up to questions. And Doug, I believe
you’re in charge. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Yes. Thanks so much, Steve. Doug Van Dine – did any question
bubble up from the chat box that you wanted to bring out? DOUG VAN DINE: Nobody’s
asked any questions, but I wanted to remind
the participants, feel free to type in
questions in the Q&A box and we all pass them
onto presenters. And if people have them right
now, go ahead and type them in, and we’ll share them so
you can see them as well. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Steve,
I did have a question. If you think back to
the survey research on gaps in WBL opportunities
across urban central locale. And as you said, it
kind of made sense in the rural specific
challenges that there would be some gaps there. For instance, local
employer mentoring, it would make
sense that it might be harder for rural schools
to offer that, given fewer employment options around them. But I was a little
surprised by the gap in student-run
enterprise, because that seems like something that can
be done in most environments. And maybe this is kind of a
misunderstanding on my part, but did you have any thoughts
on why student-run enterprise is also disproportionately not
offered in rural places? STEVE KLEIN: Well, I
mean I can conjecture. And what’s also going
to be interesting is we do have presentations by a
two educators who have actually done a pretty nice job of
putting together programs. I think some of it
has to do with scale. Some of it may have
to do with resources. And some of it may have to do
with just teachers being aware of how to go about doing this. So it is sort of
surprising, because that is one where you
don’t necessarily need to have an employer
base to be able to offer it. What’s also
interesting about that, though, is that the highest – although, rural sites lag on
all of the different types of programs, the
highest opportunity were the on the job training,
internships, practicums, co-op, and so forth. So there is some
evidence that rural sites are trying to reach out to
the extent that they can to the surrounding employers. DOUGLAS GAGNON:
That makes sense. DOUG VAN DINE: So Steve,
can you see the questions that are in the Q&A box? STEVE KLEIN: Yeah, I can. So Katie Graham asks is
there any outcome data or research on simulated
workplace experience? I don’t know of any – so one of the challenges
for everyone out there in terms of rigorous research,
is rigor would be more causal related, in terms of being,
for example, randomized control trials, or some sort
of quasi experimental, where you can try to control
for a lot of variables that confound or bias the results. There has been – there was a
report on simulated workplace experience, from some sites
that had some success with that, that the National Center for
Innovation Career and Technical Education put out. So I think if you type
simulated work-based learning and the National
Center for Innovation and Career and
Technical Education, you might find that report. But I’m not aware of any
research on simulated workplace experiences that would
reach the level of rigor. Lindsay asks, are you
going to talk more about how to get around
the barriers of providing work-based learning in rural? So some of that is
going to be addressed by our other speakers,
in terms of how they went about trying to address that. I think, though, some
of this, I will say, and part of the reason I put
up a lot of those resources, is this is about trying to take
programming that’s at your site and then using examples and
other information that’s out there, being able
to build something for your specific site. So I don’t necessarily think
any one approach is going to work for all people,
but there are examples – there’s a multitude of
suggestions and resources in the site, in the
examples that I provided. Timothy asks, will we have
access to the webinar content? Yes, it will be shared. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Yes,
we’ll be sharing the slide deck and a recording
in a few weeks, when it becomes approved and available. And that will just go out
to anyone that registered. So, yes. STEVE KLEIN: And Laura suggested
there’s an international group. So that was good to
know there’s some work on work-based learning. It’s not limited to work
simulation, however. And there was a
question here by Aaron about success of those who
ran a student-run business and what was the business? And well, this is a great – Aaron, it’s almost as though
you were laying groundwork for the next presentation. So we’ll hear a
little bit about how some educators have gone
about putting in some really interesting programs. I don’t see any other questions. Is it – Doug, should
we transition over? DOUGLAS GAGNON: I
think that’s a good – STEVE KLEIN: Thanks
for that segue. DOUGLAS GAGNON: So with
Steve providing a fantastic foundation, now we’ll hear
from a couple of people that are doing this work. So first we’ll hear
from Neal Wolf. Again, he’s an agriculture
instructor in Missouri. So – Neal, take it away. NEAL WOLF: Alright,
hello, everyone. Again, my name is Neal Wolf. If I can get this
thing going here. I’ve been an ag
teacher for 14 years. This is my third school. I’m actually from Chillicothe,
the town in which I teach. This slide will go in
a minute, I’m sure. Okay, there we go. As you can see,
Chillicothe, Missouri is where we are located. We’re sitting right
around 10,000 people. We are a relatively
rural community, a lot of ag base in our community. We’re about an hour and a
half northeast of Kansas City, if that gives you guys
some idea of where we are. I actually teach at
a facility called the Litton Center, the Litton
Agri Science Learning Center. And this facility is probably
different than most of yours that I’m talking about. And I understand that. It has made my job with
work-based learning a little bit easier. Trying get this
slide and go here. There we go, alright. So a few things. Like I said, we’re
a little different than probably most of you
that are participating in this webinar today. We have a 37-acre school farm. It’s actually 36.7,
but I’m in charge of the maintenance, and
equipment maintenance, and things like that, so
I always stretch it to 37 when I’m talking to people. On that campus, we
have our ag building, where we hold our
agriculture classes. We have several
other buildings that are used for numerous things,
such as fairgrounds. We have over 150
events here a year. We’ve got a couple of
buildings people can rent out. We do have a greenhouse. We have a wetlands and a pond. But all of this was made
possible through a lot of generous donations
by our community. There’s over $5
million put in out here over the course of
the last 15 years. And only $500,000 of
that came from schools. So as you can see, my
challenges are already lessened in my community,
because agriculture in general is big in our community. And our people like
to support that. So I’ve got a head start on
a lot of you, I’m sure on that. But Jerry Litton, I don’t
know how many people are familiar with that name. He was a U.S. Representative. He was a national FFA officer. A lot of people
around here thought he was going to be
the next president. Unfortunately, he
died in a plane crash. But this place is dedicated
to him and his family. Alright, our
program today, mainly – well, predominantly it’s
agricultural-based. We do have our state
curriculum that we follow. There are four high school
teachers in our program. So I am the one that focuses
probably the most on what we call work-based learning. Our best course probably
for that, in my mind, is property and
equipment maintenance. That is the class that
I teach every day, as well as we’ll talk a little
bit about the greenhouse, student-run greenhouse. And then I have a
natural resources class that kind of ties into
work-based learning as well. But we have three high schools
that send us, primarily just Chillicothe, but we get about 20
kids probably from surrounding schools. We’ve got 200 and some
students that pass through our doors every day. So we have a pretty big
responsibility there to meet those students’ needs. One of the benefits I have is,
I don’t have to leave the farm, leave the facility, to provide
a lot of work-based learning experiences. And I’ll go through
that as we go here. But I know that will be a
challenge for some of you. The first one to talk about
would be the school farm. This is, again, kind
of a different animal. You see in some pictures
there, we do anything from dealing with the community
in setting up and tearing down from events, and we also
build our own facilities most of the time. Not the ag building,
or anything like that, but we’ve built several hog
facilities, cattle facilities. That picture there
on the right, you see us pouring some
concrete in our cattle barn. So that is a big benefit for us. It’s a lot easier
for us to provide that work-based
learning, when we have real life projects
for our students to do, to plan and to carry out. We also have the greenhouse,
a student-run greenhouse. That is at the
beginning of the year, I give that to those kids. And they are responsible for
ordering, paying for, turning in the requisitions, they’re in
charge of getting a work schedule, who’s going to water. And then they basically
make sure that we don’t go broke running it. So there’s a lot of
dealing with the community, obviously, through that. And we also have
a lady here close that runs a greenhouse,
that’s in here quite a bit to help us through that, and
to get that real world work experience into the classroom. And then finally, that
property maintenance course, the curriculum in that goes
along with ag construction and structures. There’s electricity, plumbing,
equipment maintenance, just general farm maintenance,
concrete, things like that, that fortunately,
out here, we are able to teach that
in the classroom, have some industry professionals
in, and then take it out to the field. And part of what Steve
said earlier, we’re big believers that people
learn by doing. And it’s important to have
that classroom instruction so they know what they’re
doing when they get out there. But until you actually
physically do it, we believe you’re not
comfortable in the way that you should be, and
you don’t feel prepared in the way that should. Another way we integrate
the work-based learning here is, we employ a high
school intern during the summer and as well as two college
interns during the summer. So those are more-industry
based, just because of the way those are set up, than our
inter-curricular work-based experiences. So going through here, a
little bit about school farm, we have, along with
the school farm, I mentioned we have several
buildings that are rented out. We have over 150
events a year out here. So our students are
always kind of connected to the community and different
aspects of the community. They deal with those
people when they come in. They take their requests. We turn around and we
try to basically meet those requests for them. So that’s a good
experience for them, in learning to deal with public. It really extends our
classroom, because we are teaching agriculture here. So one of our main focuses
is actually animal science. Last year, we had 60 some
hogs here that were the kids, that they kept
here, housed here over the summer, about 10 sheep
and goats, about 10 cattle. So there’s a lot going on here. There’s a lot of
opportunities for us that, again, I understand that
a lot of people do not have. But being here on the
farm has helped us with some of those challenges,
as far as the transportation and things like that. We also, going along
with that school farm, we have to have some
trailers, obviously, to get livestock places. The maintenance and the ordering
of parts, and all that stuff, is left to our property and
equipment maintenance class. We also – I think that’s
the next one here. No, greenhouse is next. Okay, so our student-run
greenhouse, our greenhouse is actually – I’m looking here,- where is it – is 1,150 square feet. We raise anywhere from 2,500
to 3,000 bedding plants a year. Through this class,
these students are exposed to a
lady around here who runs her own greenhouse
as her sole business. She’s very knowledgeable. She also knows what she’s
looking for in employees. She is a guest presenter
in our class quite a bit. And she is a great
resource for our kids to bounce questions off of. The first few times she
comes in, it’s pretty funny. They don’t have a
lot of questions. And then after they’ve
been out there, trying to run through
this experience and be successful in it, they
start having a lot of questions about the end the year. So, it’s kind of
funny how that works. But they do all the – from beginning to end –
they do the ordering, the care for the plants, like
I said, the work schedule. And then they are also in charge
of advertising and selling. So that does get them out
in the community as well and gets them experience doing
those things that they wouldn’t normally have experience doing. To keep it relatively
short here. Moving on to
property maintenance. This class is really the one,
in my mind, that gets our kids the experience they need. Now, most of these
kids are probably within the bottom
60% of their class. So they’re not our
real academics. These are the kids
that are going to go out and get
the type of jobs that we can train them
on here at school. So they do things such
as equipment maintenance. You can see there’s a picture of
our skid steer and our smaller tractor. We also have two
larger tractors. We are in charge of
maintaining the lawn. So we have three lawn mowers,
several weed eaters, and then all the equipment
that comes along with running a farm – the tiller, the box blade, the
disk, those types of things. Our kids get experience
on all of that machinery. And when they leave here,
they are comfortable and they’re confident in
running that machinery. A lot of our guys that come out
of that class end up working for local farmers for
a while, while they go continue their education. And those people
know to call me, because I had
those kids in class and I can tell them exactly
how good they’re going to be or maybe how much
work they still need. But that property
maintenance class really runs the
gamut of anything you can possibly need
to do to maintain a facility such as this one. I mentioned before, we
go through electricity, plumbing, equipment
maintenance is a big one. That’s really a
learned by doing. And a lot of times, I’m learning
by doing when we’re doing that, as well. Concrete, just things that
you can read it in a book, but those are
things that students are uncomfortable doing, and I’m
uncomfortable doing sometimes, until you actually get
out there and do it. And when a student
becomes confident, I think probably everyone
listening knows that confidence is a big key in success. So, getting them the experience
and giving them the opportunity to get out there and get
their hands dirty and do it has really helped those kids. Some of the goals, I was
looking through there, of WBL, the first one’s
employability skills. And like I said,
this class really touches on those,
because those are the exact skills
that they’re going to need to go out and use. We have an advisory
committee that comes in and helps us determine
what skills are needed and where we need to focus. That class also is one where
we bring in a lot of industry professionals. For example, if we’re going
over let’s say concrete, we’re pouring
concrete, we’re going to have one of the local
concrete guys come in here. And he’s going to present. He’s going to talk to the
kids and answer questions. So they get more of a
professional mind on it than mine, coming from
an education background. They get to hear and see some
different viewpoints there. They also get to build
those relationships with those community people. And they learn about their
career options through that. What I’ve done in the past,
if those professionals are available, I have those
industry professionals come in. And for example, last year,
we poured a bunch of concrete. The same guy I had come
in and present in class came out and helped
us pour that concrete. So not only were they
learning from me, but they were learning
from the real deal too. Moving on, to, let’s
see, challenges. The biggest challenge I have
is supervising multiple groups of students that can be 30
acres apart from one another. And I’m still – I’m going
to be the first to admit, I’ve taught 14 years – I’m still learning
on how to do that. The big thing there
is know your students, know who’s capable of
what, and know not who to send together away from you. And then another
challenge for me is developing and implementing
appropriate assessments. I have rubrics for the class. The big thing is, they
walk in the first day, and they know, usually,
coming in, because they’ve heard from other students. But I treat this
class like a job. You’re here, you’re
here on time. Are you ready to work? Did you do a good job
when you were here? I try to treat this
class like a job, because half these kids
that take this class they won’t be furthering their education. They need to learn what it
means to be a good employee while they’re here. So they get that practice
just through this class alone. I treat it like a job. And then another one, a
big challenge we face here is funding. And I hate to even call it
a challenge, because we’re given so much out here. And people have been
very generous to us. But new buildings – last year,
we built the compost facility. The year before, we built
another hog facility. Those things cost
money, obviously. So a lot of times, we try
to get donations for those. But sometimes it falls on
other – on grants, or even the Litton Foundation. And then equipment maintenance,
anytime you have kids running equipment, it’s going to break. So probably the biggest
challenge I face is finding time to fix all that. It’d be nice if we could
fix all that during that 45-minute class every day. Most of the time that falls
on me outside of that class. So the good news
is, when it breaks, I’ve got something
to teach the kids on. The bad news is, I don’t
always have enough time to complete the fix
while they’re in there. So some lessons I’ve learned
through this – the first one is give all students
opportunities. I was guilty when I
started my career, and I don’t think I’m
sexist, but I would not give the girls dirty jobs. And I don’t know why –
or as dirty jobs. And I finally had one
girl say something to me and kind of bring it to
my mind a little bit. And since then, I’ve
been giving them what I consider the worst jobs. And believe it or not,
kids will surprise you. It doesn’t matter the gender,
or the size, the mental makeup. There’s always kids
that’ll surprise you if you give them a chance. So one of the biggest
lessons I learned was to give all
students opportunities, not just the ones you
think can handle it. A big thing for me is I have
to establish my routines early. I’m sending kids
out on equipment. We have 45 minutes. If they don’t get back
here, they miss the bus back to the high school. And that kind of messes up the
rest of the day for everybody. So the big thing
is, that first week or so, is establishing
those routines early. The next thing is
allowing students to fail. For a while, I was
worried that this is my job, if this place
doesn’t look perfect, then we’re going
to be in trouble. And I realized
the more I did it, kids have to fail to
learn a lot of times. And if you just allow it. If you show
a little patience, the first day you
give a job to a kid may only be a
learning experience. It may be all you
accomplish that day. So being patient,
allowing students to fail, and knowing that they’re not
necessarily not giving effort, but that they’ve
never done it before, that’s another lesson I’ve
had to learn over time. So again, we have a little
bit different setup here. And I realize that a lot
of our work-based learning happens here at the farm,
bringing industry professionals into us and the work
actually occurs here. So that’s a challenge that
we get to overcome just from a logistical standpoint. But otherwise,
hopefully that gives you an idea of how we are
implementing that here in Chillicothe. But anyway, if you guys
have any questions, I guess now’s the time
to feel free to ask. DOUGLAS GAGNON: So we
do have one question that was written in. Did you have any challenges
with liability insurance or other policies with
students using heavy equipment in the property
maintenance class? NEAL WOLF: I haven’t yet. That’s something that’s been
worrying me for a while. But our administration
does not seem to have an issue with
just our general insurance covering that. So I’m sure every school
is going to be different. There are administrators –
there’s been some. It’s been going on for a while. And we had some new
administrators here. They kind of came in as
it was already started. So they’ve kind of
let it go as is. And I’m not sure they have made
a lot of noise on the insurance. The big thing really
is the safety test. The first week or
so of school, we go through safety on all
the equipment and all the implements, and make sure – I’m making sure I
keep those on record. So it’s a lot like a
shop class for a teacher. As long as you’ve
got that backup, and the students know what
they’re doing when they go out there, then you should be okay. DOUGLAS GAGNON: And do you
just work with one high school, or do you work through with
several in your region? NEAL WOLF: Well,
predominantly with just one. But we have two sending schools. They’re smaller schools,
but they come to us just for the ag program. So they go to their high
school during the day, and they bus them over
here for a few hours a day for agriculture classes. And then they bus them back. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Alright,
Neal, well thank you so much. NEAL WOLF: Thank you. DOUGLAS GAGNON: And with
that, we will turn things over to Sarah Bird. SARAH BIRD: Hello, my
name is Sarah Bird and I’m at Boone Central
in Albion, Nebraska and Petersburg. Our school is a consolidation
of two smaller communities. And it’s not
switching slides here, so I don’t know if you
can help me out with that. There we go. We have approximately 200
students in our high school, grades 9 through 12. And you can see
here from the chart that one of the struggles or
challenges that we are faced with is a declining population. And so what’s really driven
the changes that we’ve made in our programs has been
this trend in population, and how can we get students
more aware of the opportunities that we have in our community,
and to get them thinking entrepreneurially, so that they
would come back and potentially be employers or employees here
in Albion or in Petersburg. So in our last census, we
were a town of about 1,600. And then our neighboring
town was a town of about 300. So we are very, very rural. So, our redesign
was really focused around the National Career
Academy model and standards. And we looked at those
standards through the lens of a small school. And we kept asking
ourselves, how can we get as close as possible
to what they would call like a gold standard level,
within the constraints that we have as a
rural community. And so our first
step in our redesign was to provide lunch and
learns for our business people. And we were just asking them,
will you partner with us? And at the time,
we didn’t really even know what that partnership
would or could look like. But just saying,
who out there would be interested in working on this
together with us, as educators. And so we started with
the lunch and learns. And then after that,
we said, we need to make it even more convenient
for our business people. And so we started to go to them. It was our high school counselor
and our curriculum director at the time. They both went out
to the businesses and started meeting with
the businesses one on one. Because everyone had kind
of their unique stories, that we felt like if
we listened to them, we acknowledged
what their struggles and their challenges
were, they would be more willing to partner with us. We had at the time a
school board member who was really in
favor of this redesign. And her husband owned a business
in town, a farm equipment supplier. And they were both
instrumental in helping us redesign our programs. And that’s what I would
suggest to those of you that are watching or
listening, is thinking about who are those influential
people in your communities that you need to get on board. Because if you
get them on board, you know that there’s five
to 10 others that will too. And so I feel like that’s
really where we started, was those key connectors
and involving them in the conversations. So our redesign started with
our current technical education programs. And we just looked at what
are we currently offering and how could we make it better. And we got the feedback
from our business partners to say, okay, this is what
the needs are in business and industry locally. And then we looked at what
are the needs with our state. And then where
are students going if they’re going
outside of the area and where do their
student interests lie. So our program, as
it exists today, involves – we call it
our Career Academy. And if you are a Career
Academy completer, you have taken three
content area courses in one of our pathways. And all of these align
to what you probably have with your career and
technical education programs. We have health and
human services, which is our FSC teacher. We have business and technology
through our business teacher. We have animal science
and agronomy, which is through our ag teacher. And then we have a skilled
and technical science program. So students will take
at least three courses in one of those pathways. And we have told those students
that we will guarantee you if you go through
these classes, we will guarantee you that there
will be a focus on project-based learning. So there was at least
one authentic project in each of those classes. And some of those classes are
semester and some of those are year-long classes. And to really kick
off that project-based learning to another
level, our administrative team was supportive of paying our
teachers in the summer to go do summer externships. So those teachers
went out to job sites with those business
partners that said yes, we want to partner with you. So we took our teachers
out to those job sites. I went with them, so they had
the support of someone else, because all of our teachers
are Singleton teachers. So I went with them
to kind of help develop that
collaboration piece. In some cases, we had a core
teacher go with us as well. So our ag teacher actually took
our science teacher with her, along with me. And we just learned
about their business. And because as we learned
about their business, then they could look at things
through an educator’s perspective, and
go, oh, gosh, this is what we could be
doing with the kids, and just started brainstorming
right there on site. So that really helped
our project-based learning, which I’ll share
some examples with you here shortly. But that really helped kickstart
what we could potentially offer. So then again, I talked
about completers. So we had that content
area courses and the focus on project-based learning. Then as juniors, our students
take a career readiness course. And in that career
readiness course, they spend one quarter just
learning about the career readiness standards. We actually study the book
Habitudes in that class. And then second quarter,
they do job shadowing. And they’ll go out to anywhere
between four and eight businesses to do job shadowing. Then quarters three and four, we
call those practicums and kids get hands-on learning. And so they actually
go out to a business, in third quarter, the same
business for that quarter, and they’ll do some type of
project with that business. In some cases, it’s
real and it’s live. In other cases, it’s simulated. So for example,
we have a grocery store here that we will send
our business students to. Our grocery store manager
knows exactly what inventory that he needs to
order each and every week. He’s very familiar with it. He does little to no
planning, because he’s been in the business for so long. So one of the things he
has our business students do when they’re out
there on their practicums is they put together what
they think should be ordered. And then he’ll
compare that to what he actually orders and have that
dialogue and that conversation with the students. So that’s what I mean by
sometimes it’s simulated, and sometimes it’s
actually working with a customer or a project. So they’ll do two of those. They’ll do one third
quarter, and then go to a different
business fourth quarter. And then the final step of
our career academy program is a capstone. And then we give students
some flexibility. It might be that
they go out and get a certification on their
own, like in the summer or during the school year. They might do some type of
independent project, which a lot of times, that
independent project is through our
CTSO organizations. Or this is when they’re
allowed to leave school to work for up to three
periods of the day. So here’s some
examples of the things that we’ve incorporated
within our career academy programs or our pathways. So the first opportunity
I’m going to talk about is for our business students. And we purchased
in the year 2000 – and I shouldn’t
even say purchased, because I think it was given
to us for maybe $1 or less. We had a theater that used to
be up and going in our community and could never really profit. So the school took it on. And we now run a 100%
volunteer-based theater. And our entrepreneurship
students help line up the workers and
do things for our theater. So we run shows on Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday nights, that’s the one show per weekend. And it shows at
7:30 each evening. So the kids rotate through
those weekend evenings. So the whole class
doesn’t have to be there. It usually figures that they’re
down there about four times a semester. They have to take a
turn at an evening. And then during
the week, they’re doing all of the inventory and
they’re setting up the movies. They’re doing the marketing. And they’re doing the
bookkeeping for the theater during their class
time at school. I think what’s
really helped this to be successful is that
we have a strong board. So when you talk about a teacher
taking on being a teacher as well as running a
business, what he’s done, or what we’ve done, kind of
collectively as a school, is we have some really strong
adults in our community that serve on a board,
on a theater board, and so they’re really
supportive of our teacher too, to kind of I guess carry
the load of some of the work that the teacher might
have and help support him. So that’s an example that we
have in our business area. One of the things that we
do is the concession stands. We get volunteer groups. And then they are given a flat
fee to do the concessions. And so if you get a movie
that’s not quite as popular, you’ll get the same
amount as if you get a movie that’s really popular. And then those volunteers
run the concession stand. And then they clean
up at night too. So they have those
two responsibilities. And they’re given like
$150 for the weekend. So it’s not a lot, but it’s
a little bit of a token to say thank you. So we have groups like
the Girl Scouts sign up. Maybe it’s student
organizations, like our junior class, or our
prom committee might sign up. And our students in the
entrepreneurship class are responsible for
lining up those groups to work the concessions. So another example that
we have that came about from our teacher
externships, is that we have a very large feedlot in town. And we would not
have known that they were working on this research
project had our teachers not gone out and visited them. And so they told us about
while we were out there, a research project
that they are doing with giving these cattle
probiotics, instead of antibiotics, where they
have tagged all of the cattle and then they have tracked
how often do these cattle go to the watering tank. And it will
electronically track that. And then they say,
okay, we’re going to give these cattle that are
extreme low amounts going to the watering tank or
really high quantity of going to the watering
tank, we’re going to give them these
probiotics and try to reduce our death rate. So in learning about
this research project they were doing, they shared – they ended up coming
into the classroom and sharing all of
that research and data that they had collected
with our students. And so then our students were
able to do some data analysis and determine whether or not
this probiotic was something that they would recommend
to other cattle owners, or is this something
that can only be scaled to this large feedlot. Through those
conversations, we ended up being able to
connect our students with their
pharmaceutical rep, who is actually out of Kansas City. Kansas City is about
five hours from here. And so, because of
those conversations and those connections,
they were able to, for us, line up that pharmaceutical
rep to actually come into the classroom and talk to
students about this probiotic and be able to answer
questions for them. Because the end result
was the students had to determine
whether or not this was a cost-effective approach
for other cattle ranchers to take on. And they can’t do that without
actually going to the source. So they were able to do
research on their own and to talk to this
pharmaceutical rep. We did some other
things too, where the kids went out to the
feedlot during the project. And they actually did an
autopsy on some of the cattle, to determine why are
these cattle dying. And we had kids that were
holding hearts in their hands, and lungs in their
hands of these cattle, to try to figure out
why did they die, and then to backtrack and say,
could it have been prevented. And then look at that research
of the cattle taking a drink or how often they took a
drink to try to problem solve. So again, that all came
about because our teachers went to the feedlot and just
learned more about the feedlot. I think our business partners
are really well-versed in their own businesses,
but they can’t always see that connection
to education. And that’s why it
was so critical. We said, we’ve got
to make it more convenient for our
business partners and go to them more often to
get these authentic experiences for our students. Another opportunity
that’s come about is our local
education foundation was able to fund and build
a greenhouse for our school. So our greenhouse is a little
bit different than the one that Neal described. We’re actually not necessarily
selling anything out of it just yet. We’re only in Year
2 of our greenhouse. But rather, the kids are doing
a lot of experiments right now. So they’re doing some
things with hydroponics and aquaponics, to determine
the health of plants when they’re grown that way. Just recently, some students
grew some succulents. And then they turned
those succulents into corsages for our homecoming
dance that was last week. So they’re trying to do some
different creative things, just through experimentation
in the greenhouse. And again, we bring in
mentors for those kids to be able to ask questions. And they’re throwing all kinds
of just wild and crazy things out. And their teachers are
saying, let’s try it. So that’s become
what I would call more experiential learning,
but definitely has transferable skills
into the workplace. I’ve learned a lot about
construction students going out and building
a house in town. But because of the constraints
of being a rural community, and we have fiscal limitations,
our construction students have focused on much
smaller projects. So the picture you
see here in this slide is actually our
superintendent’s office. They went in and redesigned and
remodeled our superintendent’s office. More recently, in our
community, they’ve had community members
that have requested to have sheds built for them or
have maybe shelves or something put up in their garages. They’ve built a gazebo for
our assisted living facility. And this year, they plan
to use their computer-aided drafting software
program to redesign a float for our American
Legion, that they use each year in our parade. So we’ve gotten kind of creative
on our construction projects since it’s just not quite
possible for us to build a house in our community. But again, we tried
to give those students a client or a customer
as often as possible as we can in that class. Another program that
we have going on is – and this was through our
meetings with our employers, was that they identified
that we need more welders, we desperately
need more welders. And so we said, okay, we will
try to offer a welding program, if you will help
partner with us. And so these business partners
that said we need welders, they helped fund new welding
stations out in our shop. And we were able to partner
with a local gentleman, who now comes in and offers a
zero hour class for students to work towards
welding certification. We started the program where
we offered it for dual credit, but we just found it was too
difficult for that instructor to actually get the
credentials that they needed. And we said, well,
what’s really more relevant to today’s workforce,
and it was that certification. And so through that
partnership and the zero hour, our students are now
working towards just a basic level welding
certification. So in this case, we
really went with what industry was telling us, and
not that carrot of more college credit. And it seems to be really
working for our students. So, just, here’s some of that
challenges that we have faced and lessons that we’ve learned. The first thing, as
a rural community, we still struggle
with matching students with what their interests are. One of the things that we
did in the beginning phases, and we continue to
revise and add to it, is – Nebraska has a career
clusters wheel or model. And we took that picture of the
six different career clusters, and we
just started to list which of our
businesses in a 30 mile radius could we put into each
of those career clusters. And we just started
to brainstorm and take a look then, and go where
are we really heavy, and we have a lot, like our ag. We have a lot of
businesses there. And where are we a
little bit light. And then how could we
think outside the box. So one of the areas we
were really light in was in the marketing area. So we started to look
at our newspaper, what do they do for marketing,
our grocery stores, what do they do, what do our
banks do for marketing. So we just started to kind
of think outside the box through those different
career clusters. We still have to balance
the needs of employers with the needs of our students. Our employers really got into
this, because they want workers and they want workers now. It’s hard for them to
find good solid work. And we continually have to
communicate to our business partners to be patient. I, myself, am an example. I didn’t return to my
community until 20 years after I graduated. So now I’m back home, but it
took me 20 years to come back. And so we just want to create
an awareness for our students about potential opportunities
that they could have if they choose to come back here. I think one thing, if we
had to do it differently, this process was really
driven by our counselor and administrators. So in some ways that lends
itself to being very fortunate. And in other ways, I really
wish that our teachers would have been more involved
from the very get-go, in the beginning. It’s really important to
have your teachers buy into this process. Because it is work to create
project-based learning. There’s a lot of contacting
and communication that has to go back and forth. I’ll tell you, in
my position, I’m kind of that liaison for them
and can help them get started. So again, at least
they feel like they have support in that area. We have found ourselves where
we’ll offer an amazing project. And then for whatever
reason the next year, it’s not sustainable. And so that’s what a lot of our
conversations are right now, is how do we sustain
these authentic projects from year to year without
exhausting our teachers. And so, again, that
is one of my roles, in that position that I
have with Boone Central, is to try to support
them in any way I can and help connect our business
people with our teachers. So I feel like I’ve
talked about a lot. And I’ve talked really fast. Do you have any
questions for me? DOUGLAS GAGNON: So we do
have a couple of questions that have come in, Sarah. Number one, is
your career academy serving just a single school
district or multiple districts? SARAH BIRD: We serve
just a single district. When we started, we looked at
what large schools are doing, like the Lincolns
and the Omahas, and even Grand Island is a
large school that’s beside us. And we said, how
can we replicate what they are doing without
building a a state-of-the-art facility and integrating
this into our career and technical programs that
we already have in existence. So yeah, we’re a single program. We don’t have any other
schools that come join us. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Thank you. And are the programs supported
by the USDA economic development grants? And also, what role
does extension play in your community and programs? SARAH BIRD: That’s
one thing that I think we’re really proud of,
is that besides our greenhouse, we have not utilized any extra
funding to do any of this. The building of our greenhouse
has been the only thing. The extension
program, we have not utilized as much as
maybe we probably should through our career academies. We’ve done some work with
after school programs, like our after
school program now utilizes our greenhouse and
some of our other things that we’ve created. And our after school program
for elementary students uses our extension office a lot. They have partnerships and
programs through there. But at the secondary
level, at the high school, we just probably haven’t
tapped into that resource as much as we could. So that’s a really
good suggestion. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Alright, and
for the career readiness class, are all students required
to take this course? And how many
placements do you have for students to do the
onsite work experience? SARAH BIRD: So that’s an idea
that we have really toyed with, is should we require this
of all of our students, or leave it optional. And, at this point in time,
we have left it optional. So all of our students do not
go through the career academy, which does offer a challenge. So you might be having
an advanced plant science class with career academy
students and non-career academy students. And so we’re always
talking about what challenges there are there. But we typically have about 25
kids in our career readiness course. And so we know which
employers want one student and which employers are willing
to take two or three students. So we’re able to find – kind of the way it works is
the very first placement, the kids will give
suggestions and ideas of where they want to go. The instructor helps place
them for the first time. And then after that,
it’s up to the kids to find their second
placement, because we say there’s a lot
of skills there that are involved in order
to contact the business, in order to line it up, in order
to follow up with the business. So the first one,
the teacher does. And then after
that, the kids are responsible for finding
their locations. We really haven’t had a problem. Our biggest class
size has been 30. We haven’t had a problem finding
placements for all those kids. But we’ve definitely
thought outside the box. And we might have a situation
too where our hospital has been one of our best partners. They have all of the kids
go through HIPAA training. And so they have five or six
departments at our hospital. So they’ll take five
or six kids and just run them through those
different departments while they’re out there. DOUGLAS GAGNON:
Thank you for that. We might have time for a
couple more quick questions. I know we’re at time. But one question is, do you have
any advice on incorporating WBL for students with disabilities? SARAH BIRD: Yeah,
we work closely with our special
education department. And if needed, we’ll send a
job coach out with our kids. So they’ll stay onsite
with the student. A lot of times, our
students with disabilities are the ones that can’t drive. So we have
paraprofessionals lined up that will help drive those
students to the workplaces. Though, we have tried
to set up a program that is both for
those kids who want to be doctors and those kids
who might be a convenience clerk for the rest of their lives. We’ve tried to set
up a program that is for all levels of
learning and we’ll serve all kids no matter the
disability that they may have. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Excellent. Last question. This might be a quick one. Who maintains the database of
employers and opportunities? Is that you? SARAH BIRD: It is a
combination of myself and then our teacher who teaches
the career readiness course. It’s kind of a combination
between the two of us. And part of that
database too is we’ve developed a lot of
documents to help educate our employers on what does a
good job shadowing experience look like. If a kid comes out 10
times, we have a tip sheet that we give our
employers, to say this is what you could
show them on visit one and the discussion
points you could have, here’s what you could
show them on a visit two and the discussion points. So I’ve helped create those,
along with our career readiness teacher. And I really think, because in
a small school, because you’re a singleton, if you can provide
that support for the teachers, just if they have somebody
to brainstorm ideas with, I think that’s really
critical to getting things moving and off the ground. DOUGLAS GAGNON: Well,
thank you so much, Sarah. With that, I think
we’ll wrap up. A huge thanks to the
presenters and the attendees who have stuck through. And this was an hour
and 20 minutes long. And I think it went
really quickly. And that’s a reflection of
how engaged the attendees were and how important
the material was. And this material, as
I mentioned earlier, it will be made
available to you. It will be emailed out once
it’s approved and finalized. You’ll also receive
a very brief survey, just a handful of questions. So if you want to
take that, we always appreciate getting feedback. We have our references here. I’ll just kind of scan
through these really quick. Again, this will be made
available in the materials. And that’s it. So again, big thanks. And I hope everyone
has a great day. Take care.

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