The Hopkinton Public Schools are looking to expand their career readiness offerings thanks to a grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Assistant superintendent Jen Parson, Hopkinton High School principal Evan Bishop and math teacher/subject matter leader Carla Crisafulli spoke during the Oct. 17 School Committee meeting about the grant the district received from the DESE to promote career, vocational and technical education (CVTE) in traditional high schools.
The grant, Parson told the committee, was stemmed from the Department of Education’s goal of supporting traditional high schools offering opportunities for students to explore careers before heading to college or into the workforce.
“The Department of Education has found that there are plenty of people in Massachusetts and plenty of jobs, but that skills aren’t matching the labor force,” Crisafulli said.
Ten Hopkinton faculty members worked over the summer to apply for the grant that will allow school districts in Massachusetts to expand career technical education, develop innovation pathways such as internships and work study opportunities, and expand their offerings in early college programs.
One of the district’s first goals in promoting career exploration, said the group, is to increase awareness of Keefe Regional Technical High School in Framingham. Starting with sixth grade, the district plans to expose students to the technical school and career exploration opportunities.
“We want to let families know what is offered there,” Crisafulli said.
“A lot of the programs they offer can lead to strong-paying jobs,” Bishop said.
Next school year the district hopes to develop a career exploration elective at the high school that will be open to all students. Students could pick an area of focus for “exploration, immersion and exposure” involving different careers of interest. There also will be a refocus on work-study and internship programs for upperclass students at the high school.
“[Work-studies and internships] give students that opportunity to dive deeper into a specific career,” Bishop said. “For students who want to go into the workforce right out of high school, it gives them the opportunity to get in the door.”
Along with the hard skills needed in the workforce, the high school would be working with the students on the soft career-readiness skills such as making eye contact, being on time, and taking and implementing feedback, Bishop explained.
“We will be working with students on these career skills as a way to be successful,” he said.
The district’s dual college enrollment program with Mass. Bay Community College also will be bolstered in order to provide career exploration for students who might be interested in working toward a certificate or earning an associate’s degree after high school.
“This has a lot of potential for our students,” Bishop said.
Finally, the district will be developing a work resource guide for the 3 to 5 percent of the Hopkinton students who enter the workforce directly after high school. The guide will be a compilation of resources for students including job search sources and resume-writing resources.
The next steps in the CVTE work, said Parson, is informing faculty, students and families about occupational trends and related opportunities all while applying for an additional implementation grant from the DESE for the 2020-21 school year.
Bishop commented that the administration and staff at HHS are excited to move forward with providing these opportunities for their students.
“As our communities grow and change it is a really important time that we invest into these different options,” he said.