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.