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Editorial: New lesson ... Connecting coursework to real world

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This fall, 40 juniors and seniors at Whiteland Community High School are going to get help figuring out what they want to do after graduation and seeing how math, science and language arts courses are needed to reach goals for nearly any job.

The students will still take traditional classes but also will spend part of their day with an instructor who will help them decide what they want to do after high school. The instructor also will meet with the students individually for career counseling and will track how well the students are keeping up in their classes.

The goal of the new program, Jobs for America’s Graduates, is to better prepare the students for life after high school.

“It’s kind of a merging of the college and career readiness concept. And its focus is getting them ready to enter the workforce,” interim principal John Schilawski said.

Helping students connect their coursework to the real world is vital to educational success and should be pursued early and regularly.

The Jobs for America’s Graduates program is paid for with federal grants and managed through the Work One workforce development agency. The money pays for an instructor who will work at the high school but won’t be a Clark-Pleasant schools employee. The only expense to the school district will be providing the instructor office space and paying for any field trips.

At the end of this past school year, four central Indiana high schools were a part of the program, and an increase in funding meant five more could be added to the program. One of the four schools participating is Shelbyville High School, where new Whiteland principal Tom Zobel previously worked. Zobel recommended to Work One that Whiteland start using the program, Schilawski said.

Twenty-two of the 40 students who will be a part of the program must come from low-income families or be in the special education program. Guidance counselors will help select students, and the high school will use grades and test scores to see if they should enroll.

The students selected for the program will be those who don’t see how what’s being taught in class will be useful to them. The job of the instructor will be to help students make those connections.

Efforts to help high school students gain a clearer idea about success in the workplace are to be commended. They are likely to pay significant dividends in the long run.

Not only will they help the teenagers gain a more realistic view of occupations and expectations, but they also will make their high school coursework more relevant and make them more engaged as students.

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