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Job shadowing teaches students about real-life work

By MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 26, 1998

LULING – One of the most common questions that goes through students’ minds when they are sitting through a geometry or biology class is “What do I need this for? How will it help me in the ‘real world’?” To help show students the connection between their studies and the outside world and to prepare them for the world of work, the St. CharlesParish School System has implemented a School-to-Work initiative. Onecomponent of that initiative, the Job Shadowing program, was presented to the St. Charles Parish School Board by administrators Wednesday night.”We want to provide ninth- and 10th-grade students the experience to explore first hand the kinds of jobs found in their career clusters,” Felicia Gomez, executive director of Curriculum, Instruction and Restructuring said. “It provides real learning for the students.”Gomez said arranging the job shadows at local businesses requires a tremendous amount of coordinating, planning and communication. Playing atremendous role in the implementation of the program are the School-to- Career coordinators at each high school.

Mary Rush, coordinator at Hahnville High School, provided information on the purpose and procedure of the program. Rush said the program began in both high schools in the 1997-98 school year. The purpose is to havestudents experience first hand the careers they are interested in going into, allowing them to make informed decisions about whether or not that is the career they want to pursue.

The students can observe the daily routine of a job and see what it really entails. They can learn required skills and practice communication skillsand develop an understanding of work culture. The program also allowsstudents to see the connection between school and work.

Rush said all ninth-grade students must take a Dynamics of Effective Study class. In the class, students fill out forms to see where theirinterests lie and in which career cluster they fall in. The students’requests are then matched up with an employer. The students must callthe employer and confirm their schedule.

An orientation program instructs the students how to dress and conduct themselves on the job shadow. Students must also arrange with theirteachers to make up any work they miss while on the job shadow and take home a parent authorization form for their parents to sign.

On the day of the job shadow students must complete a job shadow guide that contains interviewing questions to ask and what to observe. Theshadow is not complete until students complete an essay, make a oral presentation to the class and write a thank you letter to the employer.

Destrehan School-to-Career coordinator Janet Davis gave the data and the future plans for the program. In the past year, 783 students performed jobshadows at 203 businesses. Of the 398 students at Destrehan, 242 didtheir job shadows in the Health and Human Services cluster, 62 in Business and Management, and 47 in Trade, Engineering and Industrial Technology. Of the 385 students at Hahnville, 179 did their job shadows inHealth and Human Services, 93 in Trade, Engineering and Industrial Technology, 72 in Arts and Humanities and 41 in Business and Management.

Davis also presented comments by students and businesses involved in the job shadowing.

“I learned you need a good education to get a job and follow your dreams,” one student wrote.

Davis said businesses have been very cooperative, saying they are looking for future employees and wanting to help with the education of students.

“I think it is an excellent opportunity for selecting a job,” one business host wrote about the program.

Davis said plans in the future include continuing with the efforts in ninth grade and having students do two job shadows in the 10th grade. Plans arealso being made for internships and mentorships in 11th and 12th grades.

“I want to commend both high schools,” Dr. Rodney Lafon, superintendentof schools, said. “You are doing a good job.”In other business, the board approved the 1999 renewal of the group health insurance program with Ochsner and United Health Care and named Ochsner as the School Board’s base plan.

The board also approved a resolution declaring the week of Oct. 23-31 asRed Ribbon Week in St. Charles Parish Schools. In his superintendent’s report, Lafon said students will not have to make up any days missed due to the recent tropical disturbances, but if they are forced to miss any more days they will have to be made up.

Lafon also congratulated board member Clarence Savoie for being elected president of the National Urban School System organization.

The board’s next meeting has been moved to Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m.due to a scheduling conflict.

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