Clark-Pleasant school chosen for career pilot program

Eighth-graders at Clark-Pleasant Middle School will have more help in sorting through the big question of what they want to be when they grow up or whether they want to go to college.

The students are going to be involved in a pilot program that is being tested across the state starting this spring.

The middle school students will take quizzes about what job they are best suited for, see what college has degrees geared toward that job, what grades they will need to get into college and what jobs are growing in their community. Those tools should then be able to help them start planning for their lives after they complete their education.

Clark-Pleasant was chosen as one of 16 pilot schools in Indiana to test the Indiana Career Explorer Pilot Program through the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Department of Education.

Local educators are unsure exactly what the program will look like for their students until the educators are trained next month. However, the program is designed to enhance college and career readiness for eighth grade students, according to a news release from the state.

“It will help them kind of organize their experience in school,” said Gina Woodward, student services coordinator at the school. “A lot of it is research for them.”

Currently, middle school students at Clark-Pleasant do not get a lot of job and career training through the school. Eighth grade is when students begin seriously thinking about their future goals and what they will have to do to get there, Woodward said.

Educators applied to be a part of the pilot program to help give the students the information they need while they are still at a grade where they can change their course if they need to, she said.

“If you wait until high school to talk about those decisions, it can be a little late,” said Woodward. “It really is an ideal time to link them with those resources.”

Educators begin training on what the program will actually look like for students in a few weeks. The main part of the program is to give students all the knowledge they need to make decisions about their careers and future. Clark-Pleasant focuses on encouraging strong academics and planning for the future. However, the district can struggle in educating students on what to do with what they learned in school, she said.

“We don’t really have a structured plan for those connections,” Woodward said.

One of the main components of the program is a website and class instruction that has resources that will allow students to link their interests with a career and will lay out paths for them with goals, including academic grades they need to get into a college that offers that degree. They will also be able to see what jobs are expected to be booming in the community where they want to live, she said.

“They can come back and continue to give to the community where they were raised,” she said.

All eighth grade students will likely have access to the program this spring, after educators have had time to train on the program.

Clark-Pleasant plans on using the program as the main tool to help eighth grade students start choosing their career paths with hopes that the program will move past the pilot stage and be available for all eighth graders in the future, she said.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.