Some Marietta High School students got a head start on the paths to their careers thanks to the implementation and success of a new course. The Marietta City Schools board of education heard reports about the program Monday at its first regular meeting of 2014.
December saw the end of the first semester of Marietta's new Career Search course, a sophomore level job-readiness class run by Kim Depue, a longtime teacher who made the transition to a career exploration specialist for Marietta High School.
The program worked with local businesses and industries to create job shadowing experiences for 102 sophomore students, and after just one semester on a test run, both Depue, fellow teachers and board members have hailed it as a big success.
The job shadow and preparation focuses on getting students ready to be professional in filling out applications and going to interviews. Depue noted that it should ultimately serve as a realistic way to put students on the path to careers as the shape of the economy is rapidly changing.
"It doesn't mean you don't go to college. But it means you start thinking about, do I only need a one-year program, or an apprenticeship, or a two-year program," she said. "All of these programs can build up to what we need to fill the job market. A lot is changing."
All 102 students who took the course completed 151 job shadowing experiences, with some completing multiple ones, from going to zoo keeper experiences at the Columbus Zoo, to shadowing area physicians and touring WTAP's studios to learn more about video production and journalism.
At a glance
Marietta High School Career Search course:
- 102 students completed 151 job shadowing experiences.
- 76 percent reported that the course influenced their career choice.
- 72 percent reported that after taking the course, they felt secure in their career choice.
- 45 percent of participating students would be first generation college students.
"I feel so strongly about this program, I didn't want to just fit students with something that was close to what they wanted to be. I know here in Marietta, as a small community, it can be hard to get them into fields, or the areas they really want to be in," Depue said.
But the program exceeded initial expectations. With 41 businesses and industries volunteering staff and professionals to guide students, every student was able to take home valuable experiences. For some, it meant realizing that what they were initially interested in might not be for them, or vice versa, including gaining valuable networking opportunities that are often overlooked in high school years.
"I can safely say that 102 students from just this semester now have three references they can list on an application, and where it says 'relationship' they will not put 'Jerry's mom' any longer," Depue said.
Depue and administrators are working to get state funding for the program, as the Ohio Department of Education is requiring that Depue become a certified Family Consumer Science instructor, a goal she said she hopes to complete by next fall. For now, the district has been granted an opportunity to back fund the program until it officially qualifies for funding.
"I just think it's a wonderful class for students...I wish we'd had something like that years ago, when I was in school," board member Karen Burton said.
Depue also hopes to add a senior level course that will help ease the transition into college, jobs or technical training. The course would be designed as a 20 or more hour mentorship that would be more intensive and focus even more on after-high school plans.
"I like the idea of the senior course...we're making sure they actually get what they need to go out and pursue that, whether it be to get a job right after or get some kind of training. I love the idea that we could bring that back, somebody that could meet with these kids to get them on that pathway," board Vice President Wendy Myers said.
Not only is it helping students make those transitions easier, but according to Depue, these types of programs are cost-effective at a time when college is so expensive.
The Career Search program is part of the Building Bridges to Careers Initiative, a cooperation between the district and Family and Children First to better prepare high school students for the work and college.