School Committee is Career Oriented

With the recent focus on the status and funding for college-bound programs like International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) a topic of continued debate, the Clarke County School Board will convene a special session on Monday night at 7:00pm to review the school division’s vocational and technical programs. Despite the final outcome regarding the balance of school funds that will be dedicated to either program, school officials are working to expand the career options available to all students.

At last week’s School Board Career and Technical Advisory Committee meeting, chairman Bobby Hobbs, School Board member Robina Bouffault (White Post), Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy and division staff members Dr. Jeffrey Jackson, Jay Lucas and Mary Elson focused on efforts to enhance the career opportunities of Clarke County students regardless of their post-high school educational and jobs goals.

According to Bouffault, Clarke County graduate and now Bank of Clarke loan officer Bobby Hobbs pointed out that many of the local companies in the Winchester and Clarke County areas rely on firm called “Lifestyles” to handle job applications. Hobbs, who chairs the committee, is working to obtain more information related to application formats and job placement testing administered by Lifestyles.

Hobbs also plans to coordinate with the Winchester Economic Development Commission’s to include Clarke County students in local manufacturing company day-tours.

Bouffault said that division collaboration with the Clarke County Farm Bureau to enhance vocational and technical course options for Clarke County is still being considered.

“ There was a discussion concerning the development of the Ag programs that are to  be developed between the Farm Bureau and the School Board” Bouffault said.” This will be pending Farm Bureau action.”

Bouffault said that the committee also discussed the age at which students should start  thinking about career choices, and believes that 7th grade is an appropriate time for students to begin considering career choices. The group considered the option of “job shadowing” where 8th grade students could follow someone for a day while that person is working in his/her professional capacity.

Bouffault said that Dr. Murphy discussed the possibility of a “career coach” who could be shared with other areas school divisions and that Murphy plans to investigate the career coach concept further.

The Career and Technical Advisory Committee also took up the division’s lack of a keyboarding course in elementary or middle school.

“It was felt that this lack is hampering the high school students’ ability in their computer courses, as they were losing too much time teaching the students to keyboard before being able to teach them computer programs like Word, Excel and Powerpoint” Bouffault said.

Recommendations of the School Board Career and Technical Advisory Committee will be presented to the Clarke County School Board on November 21, 2011.




  1. International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) should NOT just be considered “college bound programs”. Any student with an interest in the IB or AP course subject matter can benefit greatly by taking them.

    Vocational and technical programs, simililarly, should not be considerd “non-college bound programs”. Any student with an interest in the course subject matter can benefit greatly by taking them.

    Let’s get off the argument about college bound or blue collar and provide courses that students will choose to take in meaningful numbers regardless of their post high school plans. It should not be a battle between the two groups. It should be a blend borne of student interest.

  2. International Baccalaureate (IB) should not be an offering in ANY American public school. IBO is an NGO of UNESCO and has partnered with the Aga Khan’s Development Network to put a more Islamic face on its curriculum. Get this NWO scam of a program(me) out of our public schools!

    • Cathy Dickey says:

      This is a quote from the website “truth about ib”….this from a student who received his IB diploma and wanted to set the record strait…..

      “I feel as though someone looking up information on IB may be swayed to not partake in the IB classes because of the false information presented on your website. If you are going to give a versus argument the information on both ends must be correct for the argument to be valid.”
      ~ CC from California

      As far as the IB organization being “pro-Islamic”, I have had 2 children take IB classes – neither was working toward the IB diploma – each was taking advantage of the most difficult course offerings CCHS was offering – and the statement that “International Baccalaureate should not be offered in any American public school is just absolutely ridiculous! AND I HAVE NO PROBLEM IDENTIFYING MYSELF, UNLIKE MANY ON THIS SITE!

  3. Why in the World? says:

    IB is a wonderful program, but it simply creates a “prep and private” school within a school.

    Many larger school divisions do very well with IB, but 23 school divisions within the commonwealth have already arrested the program due to cost while increasing AP courses.( which eventually saves parents and students money and time).

    From observing our declining IB, ACT, SAT and SOL scores, we clearly need to get back to the basics.

  4. Tammy Lanham says:

    Good information- sounds like memers of the School Board’s Career and Technical Advisory Committee are on the right path by recognizing the need to expand career options for students…. Glad to see this is an action item!

    This article hits on a few points that have come up at other times and places (with parents and school board members) so thought I’d real quick jot down points to ponder:

    – I agree w/Ms. Bouffalt that 7th grade is a good time for students to think about what interests they have and what career options are out there (more and more students are participating in the “Take your child to work day” initiative which is successfully job shadowing…- perhaps schools can encourage this as well as continuing the “career day” activities where schools invite parents to talk about their jobs with elementary and MS students in small group sessions).

    – The sixth grade elective program needs to be completely revamped. I know budget and staffing is a problem, but every other public and private middle school program in our area offers a rotation through required electives so every student has the opportunity to explore:

    intro. to foreign language
    life skills (cooking/sewing/hammering/balancing checkbook etc.)

    Students can choose which language, type of music or art class, but the point is to let them explore a variety of options – and learn skills that will serve them in a variety of careers….

    By splitting the academic block or offering semester courses, all of the above offerings fit at the middle school level (plenty of model programs in other Districts to consider).

    PE is not usually considered an “elective” because everywhere but in Clarke it is REQUIRED.

    – By eighth grade students not only have developed specific interests and strengths, they are ready to match them to future goals. Clarke does a great job of motivating kids (promoting college and higher level classes) but parents and counselors need to also be part of the process so a FOUR YEAR PLAN can be adopted PRIOR to students enrolling at CCHS. Just this year my 10th grader finally was given a sort of “career test” that matches academic strengths to career options- this would have been much more effective a couple of years ago, since that was when we were looking at diploma requirements and what colleges look at over the full four year span (direction should be given to our students MUCH earlier! our poor counselors at CCHS work like crazy every August to fit seniors into the classes they need to fulfill graduation requirements at the last minute…. it’s time to break this cycle!)

    – the Lifestyles’ program is worth looking into- especially if placement requirements are shared with students as freshmen…. but the application process should already be covered in the life-management classes required at the middle school level (normally that is where all students learn to type, format a business letter and send business correspondences). I’m sure DECA participants cover many of these things, but again, DECA is more of an elective and job applications and interviews should be taught to all students.

    – typing is so crucial…. and technology teachers at the elementary level have minimal time to give our kids the basics (last I heard our one certified technology teacher was shared between both elementary schools….) Our 7th grade son is actually concerned because he found out ast week the writing SOLs will be on computer this year and he views himself as a weak typist… He opted for PE and Band again this year so has no typing instruction available.

    – Vocational, Technical, IB (or AP) and career coaching opportunities should ALL Be part of the educational programs in Clarke County. So should Physical Fitness, Health and Wellness, Music, Art and Life skill training. And yes– this is on top of instruction in Math, Science, History, Language and Reading and Writing.

    I realize some will say this is impossible, it costs too much or that college-bound or not-college bound students don’t “need” these options. Just know that we are one of the few school systems in VA that does not require basic instruction in PE/typing/family life etc….. and that schools usually offer a variety of courses and give guidance to help students develop career interests.

  5. Educationer says:

    A lot of high school students can not read at their grade level and their writing is horrible. If a student wants to go to college, we as educators, need support them and provide them with coursework that will challenge them early on so that they can be prepared. Too many times I have seen students who are now in college say that they are struggling. I ask them why and the response is, “the teaching style and workload are harder than it was at Clarke”. We seem to do way too much hand holding and curving of the grades because we don’t want to see them fail. All we are doing is hurting the student. We must teach the curriculum but we mus also teach life-long skills. Let’s teach them what they need to know in order to succeed not just in school but in life. College bound students or not, they should all be treated the same. We shouldn’t force students to take higher level classes if they don’t want to. Over all I think we are doing well.