APS Column: Packer Profile Seminar helps students through the confusion

Published 5:05 pm Friday, April 12, 2024

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By Matthew A. Schmit

Austin High School Principal

In today’s rapidly changing world, students often find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a career path. Many students leave high school with limited knowledge and understanding of the many career options available to them. This lack of clarity can lead to confusion, and frustration about why the education they are receiving is important.

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To address this need, Austin High School is introducing a new 9th Grade Packer Profile Seminar class starting in the 2024-2025 school year. By offering this class early in their high school years, students will discover their interests and strengths and gain a better understanding of what truly motivates and excites them. Students will explore career pathways from a wide range of fields. The course will also expand a student’s understanding of each career path and do away with misunderstandings. For example, a student may say they do not want to pursue a career in the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources pathway because they don’t want to be a farmer.

A common misperception like this shuts the door on a potential career in the field such as veterinarian, wind turbine technician or food science researcher. By exploring all pathways in depth students will gain a better understanding of what careers are possible in each field.

Next, students will complete their four-year academic plan based on their chosen pathway. It is possible that a student will change their mind about their chosen path, and that is the entire point of exploration. This will add purpose to selecting classes and show students a clear path to their chosen career. While enrolled in these classes within their chosen pathway, students will listen to guest speakers, visit industry partners and work on meaningful learning experiences that will build skills and show students what it is like in the field.

During students 10-112 grade year, they will continue to explore careers, participate in career fairs, job fairs, college visits, mentorship, and job shadowing opportunities. Students will also be helped with selecting a post-secondary college or certification program and will be helped with completing applications and scholarship forms.

In addition to career exploration, our students will also develop essential skills aligned to the APS Core Values such as problem solving, communication, self-advocacy, and interpersonal skills. These skills will not only help students in high school, but they are also what employers look for in job candidates no matter what the position is.

Students will work with teachers, community members and business leaders to develop these skills and talk about the importance of them in the workplace. These skills are critically important for our students to succeed, but many times take a back seat to academic learning. By making it a focal point early in high school, students will have time to develop these skills.

“Because I said so,” is not enough reason for today’s generation of students. Now is the time to embrace meaningful learning strategies and empower our young people to achieve their full potential.