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Preparing Students For Meaningful Work: Moving Beyond College Readiness

Natalie Ferrell, Asia Cruz, Angela Aponte, Isaiah Williams — South Bronx Community Charter High School

Participants will discuss how to move beyond a narrow focus on college towards a more expansive definition of life readiness and preparing students for meaningful work. They will explore best practices at the school and classroom level with an opportunity for differentiated discussion based on role (principal, guidance counselor, career coordinator, teacher, etc.) Some of the areas explored will include defining competencies, setting a standard for work-based learning/internships, and incorporating career readiness into curriculum.

At SBC, all student apply to college as an option, but they also must complete a 60 hour internship that is aligned to the school's competency-based system in order to graduate. A number of students also complete more in depth apprenticeships where they are working half of the time and in school half of the time. Students begin career exploration early as a foundational project in their advisor space in 9th grade, and have authentic opportunities to build career skills over their four years (mock group interviews, career networking events, etc). Students also present on their career plan each year as an element of their culminating gateway project, highlighting skills they are working on. These same skills are a part of our competency framework which students receive feedback on across classroom spaces.

While career readiness has always been at the center of SBC's framework, this is a timely topic given the number of students opting to not enroll directly in college post-COVID.

Conversational Practice

The presentation will be tailored to the needs/interests in the room. There will be differentiated break-out groups for deeper discussion based on role (eg classroom vs school level) and opportunity to explore artifacts. Participants will discuss best practices but also walk away with an action plan to implement an element of what they learned.

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