College acceptance letters are steadily rolling in for this year’s crop of high school seniors, and Parkwood Middle School is doing its part to prepare their students for those next steps. Based on a district-wide mandate from Union County Public Schools this year, all 6th – 12th graders are required to partake in a week-long college and career readiness initiative. It’s up to each individual school as to how they implement that initiative, but Parkwood Middle certainly rose to the task!
Parkwood’s Career Development Coordinator Brian Elliott along with his staff spent the better part of last year researching ideas and training on different tools to utilize in their College and Career Prep Week. It resulted in targeted activities and modules to allow students to explore their post high school options, as well as help define the necessary steps to attain their desired goal.
“Obviously, those goals can and likely, will shift over time, but this process is all about allowing the students to imagine some picture of where they’re trying to go,” said Elliott.
For 8th graders, they utilized the planning tool Naviance, which acts akin to PowerSchool. Students are assigned their own login and essentially, mock-register for the coursework they want to take based on the path they hope to go throughout high school. The aim of Naviance is to enable students to formulate a 4-year plan for high school, so when the impending official class registration comes, they know what to expect. In addition, the 8th graders traveled to Parkwood High School for an open house and class offering presentation.
As part of the UCPS Superintendant mandate, 4th and 7th graders are required to receive some kind of introduction to a college experience. Parkwood Middle 7th graders traveled to UNC-Charlotte for a campus tour. Parkwood partnered with the college to debut an interactive meeting with UNC-C’s admissions department, as well as their student and academic life departments to give the kids a real taste of the higher learning. The trip concluded with a scavenger hunt throughout campus to further familiarize the students with campus life. According to Elliott, “Some were shocked by the big lecture classrooms and amazed that you have to actually buy your own books!”
Sixth graders weren’t left out in the week’s post high school readiness initiative, as they were administered Career Key, a test that assessed their strengths and weaknesses as it relates to a career pathway. Additionally, they viewed Day in the Life videos that featured some 16 different careers, and then worked in small groups to share their takeaways with their peers.
Elliott said their primary purpose is to ensure all their students are put on a path such that by the end of high school, they are college- and/or career-ready. Says Elliott, “Our goal is to provide exploration and exposure opportunities for the students now so that when the time comes, they can take the mind back and see how it connects later.”