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Students learn about potential careers through Mountie Pathways, Career Cafe

As schools become more attuned to preparing students for life after graduation, programs encouraging students to creatively explore various career options are appearing at all levels in schools.

Mountie Pathways is a new program, with an emphasis on careers that do not require a college degree, which was rolled out in the South Williamsport Area School District, recently at the district’s showcase and art show.

“Mountie Pathways is a fundamental programming shift at the secondary level away from college to careers. The five pathways will encourage more purposeful planning by students and their families towards what career path the students wants to follow, which may or may not require college,” Dr. Mark Stamm, district superintendent said.

The shift is part of an emphasis on the state level on developing career pathways for students.

“As the state starts to develop career pathways, we know that we are really lacking in the skill areas, the trades, this is one of the ways that we are doing that, by creating five pathways for our kids to look in-depth different areas and different job types that they can look for,” Dwight Woodley, director of innovative learning, and the Pathway Chairs said.

“We’re starting to design courses around those five pathways to give kids more experience and more knowledge as they enter the workforce. It can give them a better understanding of what options and jobs are out there, especially in our county.

The five pathways include careers in such things as the health sciences, engineering, manufacturing and industrial technology and arts and communication, to name a few. Within those pathways, students can explore various career choices.

“For example, health sciences deals with jobs like biotech, health information services, therapeutic and things like that. Each of those different pathways all has specific directions for kids,” Woodley said.

He stressed that not all the jobs featured require a college degree. “That’s one of the things we’re really pushing hard with kids so that they understand that they can get a really decent job without having to go to college. Whether it’s with doing on the job training, whether it’s just going to a trade school. There are many options out there,” he added.

New courses are being added to the curriculum in all the major subject areas — math, science, social studies, English — to accommodate the career pathways.

Within the next few weeks, students will begin registering for classes which begin in the fall.

Career Cafe

Giving students the opportunity to explore different careers is also the emphasis of a program at Stevens Primary School in the Williamsport Area School District.

Called the “Career Cafe,” the program brings people from various professions into the school to meet with second and third grade students. The guests share what their careers are, what training is needed to work in that profession and why someone would choose that particular career path.

Run by Marcella Nolan, the school’s counselor, the program is designed to give each student a chance to participate four times in the cafe before they move on to the intermediate grade levels.

“What I am trying to teach them is, one, just expose them to the variety of careers that are out there and, two, just kind of help them learn that they have traits and strengths within themselves that might lead them down a certain career path,” Nolan said.

The cafe is set up so that a guest visits the first day to talk about what they do and then the kids come back the second day to discuss the career.

“I try to introduce the idea that if you take the the things you’re good at and the things that you like, most people if they can find a way to match those two things they end up with a career that is satisfying,” Nolan said.

Nolan noted that she is also trying to prepare the young students to hone their social skills, in anticipation of job situations, such as lunch meetings, where they need to present themselves professionally.

“I’m trying to teach them some manners,” she stressed. “I try to use career cafe for those little etiquette and social skills that they might not otherwise think of.”

“It is a chance for them to use the manners they are taught everyday, but just use them in a different setting,” she said.

Although second and third grade might seem rather young for students to start considering the direction of careers, Nolan said studies show that even at that age children are thinking about them.

“I always us the sports analogy, because every boy is going to be a sports star. But, what happens is since most aren’t, maybe all the way through you really liked writing or reading. Some of the most creative writers out there are sports writers. They have to verbally paint a picture of a really dynamic event,” she said. She added that a love of sports could also lead to a career as a coach or a business manager.

“We keep putting these things in front of them trying to help them realize that there might be more than one path to creating a career you find satisfying,” she added.

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