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Education to Employment program helps students identify career interests, connect with industry professionals

Education to Employment program helps students identify career interests, connect with industry professionals
Posted on 03/19/2018

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Would you be drawn to Pay-Doh, building blocks or an odd looking figure made of paper cups, tin foil, paper clips and other random items? Would an empty table with the word "lead" or "mentor" draw you in?

As part of the Education to Employment (E2E) program at Kearny High School, students participate in lessons like "Let Them Play," in which they tour 15 stations like "build," "lead" or "mentor" and they choose which lessons interest them the most. The idea is that these lessons will ultimately lead students toward a career path most suitable for them.

Ribbon CuttingIn addition to helping students identify which career fields may be of interest, the program also connects them with industry partners who offer career advice and internships. Program partners include the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

The school recently introduced its new E2E facility with a tour and ribbon cutting ceremony.

"The lab is a physical embodiment of our belief that the learning experience resonating with students most profoundly are those that emphasize relevance through real-world problem solving in a hands-on, learn-by-doing model," said Superintendent Cindy Marten at the ceremony.

Kearny senior Adrian Torres, who took part in the program this year, always knew he wanted to do something in the video field. After an internship with the San Diego Workforce Partnership in their IT department, Torres quickly realized he preferred a field with more human interaction. He attended the E2E lab and learned he was drawn to graphic design. Now, Torres is entertaining college offers in two varying fields - graphic design and cognitive sciences.

The "Let Them Play" lesson includes 15 stations to choose from, which are related to Holland Code interests (refers to John Holland's six personality types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional). Students walk the stations and decide which activities they are drawn to and will engage with. After participating in the lesson, students answer a series of questions about their experiences, and are given potential career avenues to pursue.

Beyond bridging the gap between education and employment, the lessons also help students increase their self-esteem, self-efficacy, and mindset. Students learn their strengths and interests, which helps build confidence, ability and resilience.

The new E2E lab itself is part makerspace, part learning lab, and part classroom. Designed by students, for students, it allows for lecturing, presenting and collaborating in an environment that welcomes creativity and critical thinking.