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April 2016

How Our School to Career Program Connects Students to the “Real World”

We often talk about joining the “realworld” once you have completed school. This month we explore how our community schools and businesses have connected to provide our students with “real-world” experiences while still in school. Schoolto-Career (STC) is a system designed to ensure that every student graduates from high school with the skills needed to succeed in the ever changing world of work and is prepared for lifelong learning. STC is a vehicle that can be used by communities to assist students in planning their future and making the connections between school and work. STC came to Plymouth in 1996 when the State Legislature introduced this concept. Since then it has been an integral part of our community. A School Business Partnership was formed in 1999 comprised of business, community and educational leaders, some of whom are still current members. David Bordeau of Industrial Riggers and STC member says:

I have been a member of the School to Career Business Partnership since its inception. I belong to this group because of my core belief that those who are not part of the solution are part of the problem. The “problem” is the ongoing need to make all students aware of the many career avenues that are open to them. This cannot be accomplished by simply talking to them or expecting educators to be able to make them aware of the multitude of careers available.

I am also an advocate for keeping taxes in line. By volunteering my time, I hope that my business experience will be of some help in helping teachers and students alike understand the challenges and rewards of working in the construction field.

STC is a K-12 program in Plymouth which the State Department of Education celebrated as one of the best in the State. The professionals involved, volunteer their time and meet on a monthly basis where they actively engage in the planning and implementation of the following STC initiatives: job shadowing, internships, career speakers and site visits, career fair, Reading Day, Manufacturing Day, college visits, mentoring, mock interviews, and financial literacy programs to name a few. Michael McGowan, THS Guidance Counselor states:

STC is where students get the real world experience that many high schools across the state do not provide. In Plymouth our students get the chance to meet and speak with professionals in all areas according to their individual interests. These are necessary activities for a student’s personal development. Exposing them to different career related experiences outside of the classroom bring new meaning to student learning in the classroom.

The School Business Partnership has been the link that connects learning to earning and the networking opportunities and communication practices have led to wide community support. The building of partnerships has been a key driver for their group and has led to both financial and educational support. Some supporters include Thomaston Savings Bank, United Way of West Central CT, Rotary Club of Terryville, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club of Terryville, Bristol Hospital and the Local Prevention Council.

Community service is an important element of STC. In order to graduate, students must volunteer 30 hours in a nonprofit organization during their high school career. Monthly volunteer opportunities are made available through STC and overseen by the STC Coordinator.

We believe that students volunteering outside of school to benefit others provide unique opportunities for networking. The student works with a caring adult and learns the values of teamwork, respect and responsibility.

Over the years, STC has evolved and changed with the times. Currently it serves to support students in the middle school and high school as a resource for the individual students plan towards success after high school. STC works closely with the guidance departments and is the liaison to the world of work in the businesses and community.

In conclusion, the Plymouth STC benefits students, parents, teachers, businesses, as well as the town and state as a whole. A well-educated and informed population leads to forth right citizens who support the community and have the opportunity to purchase products, own homes and pay taxes. STC gives all students career awareness opportunities out of the classroom in conjunction with the curriculum. Career awareness excites their senses and gives the ability to explore various career settings is critical in the evolution of a young person. Finally giving students first hand experiences working alongside adult mentors can provide for student success and appreciation of their value to the greater community. Our community, state and country can only succeed with an educated and highly motivated work force.

Next month we will feature student testimonials from their STC experiences

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