K-8 Students Will Learn Career Readiness Skills, Thanks to Smart Start Professional Development
Published on 9/14/21
District News Grant Middle School Roberts preK-8 School
Elementary and middle school students across the Syracuse City School District will have a renewed focus on career readiness skills, computer science and digital literacy this year… all thanks to a Smart Start professional development course offered to their teachers over the summer!
125 SCSD kindergarten through 8th grade teachers participated in a three-day virtual event and a four-day in person “externship” this summer; and they will enjoy ongoing mentoring throughout the school year as well. The opportunity was intended to help them learn how they can best prepare students for success in their future, whether that includes college, a career, or the military.
The staff learned about the various Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways offered to high school students in the SCSD and how they can help prepare their students for those offerings. They learned about new K-12 Computer Science and Digital Literacy standards and how they can incorporate them into their grade and content levels. They heard from SCSD CTE program graduates, as well as community leaders and business and higher education partners who work alongside our high school CTE students. In short, they became “honorary” CTE students!
“We really wanted our teachers to become immersed; to participate in the activities our CTE students do, so they could experience what it’s like to be a CTE student,” CTE Program Coordinator Nick Lisi explained. “We really wanted the participants to be fully immersed in what it’s like and the type of education that students experience in a CTE lab. The teachers were in medical PPE. They were in the auto shop working on cars. We really wanted them to have that experience. For a teacher who may have never been to our high schools before, they now have an idea of how all the pieces connect and come together. A 3rd grade teacher can now envision how the pathway works through elementary and middle school, high school, college or career or the military – and how all those skills build on each other.”
“This was a home run in terms of trying to get these staff to understand what we do in our CTE programs,” CTE Program Coordinator Sue Centore added. “They are the gatekeepers who are talking to the kindergarten through 8th graders every day. Now, they can reinforce what we are teaching in the CTE programs to their students. They can reinforce the career readiness practices, so their kids understand how they need to behave and they can start developing their career ready habits. It’s going to make their students more successful as they continue on through their education and through their lives.”
Roberts Social Worker Amy Phinney said that the opportunity to help give her students a head start was what led her to participate in the course.
“I don't think our staff, students, or families have a full understanding of what is being offered in our high schools… I know I didn't,” Ms. Phinney said. “The PD gave me the opportunity to explore about half of the 27 program pathways SCSD offers. We learned in the same classrooms with the same activities that our students use every day. Each classroom was state of the art, amazingly equipped and so hands on. Our individual students’ strengths in certain academic situations and areas, their personal characteristics and their hopes and dreams for the future can all be an asset in choosing their high school path. Our SCSD students have a beautiful gift awaiting them – it’s our job to inform them of it, and as a middle school social worker, I am ready to do that!”
Grant Math teacher Ashley Killenbec shared the same enthusiasm for the impact the course will have on her students.
“I wanted to participate in this experience to see how we can incorporate CTE into our content classes and expose our middle school students to skills needed for high school and beyond,” Ms. Killenbec shared. “Our students will benefit because we now have a better understanding of all CTE programs available to them and at which schools. This will allow for better discussions with students before they make decisions on a program they are interested in. We can also talk about certain programs and the things offered in these programs. We all had wished we could see more programs! It was such a great experience and will help us in communicating with our students about CTE. In addition, we know which skills our students need to be proficient in before heading to high school and beyond.”
Through a grant, the SCSD will be able to offer this program to new educators each summer for the next four years. Thank you to all the elementary and middle school teachers who chose to take part in this important training!