It can be a difficult deciding what you want to be for the rest of your life, but a couple new programs at McClain High School aim to help engage more students in preparing for life after graduation.
The first is a collaboration with Harvard University that principal Matt Shelton announced at the December school board meeting.
The Ivy League school’s National Center for Rural Education Research Networks is heading up the program and it is working with several rural schools in Ohio and New York.
The collaboration, which began in January, focuses on improving the areas of student attendance and college and career readiness. The partnership with the McClain is for the next four years and will provide specific interventions that can be implemented throughout the building to help improve the two areas.
Since January, Shelton said the district team has been meeting a lot with the Harvard team. The teams have been “digging deep” into all the information they have to identify the root causes of some students’ lack of preparedness for life after high school.
One of the questions they have dealt with is why is every student not achieving at a high level? There are several reasons they identified, Shelton said, including motivation, home life, effort, and some students just not being interested. It’s been a lot about finding out what is needed, then figuring out the best way to address those needs.
Following the district team’s collaboration on initial needs identified, the group evaluated several interventions the Harvard team has used for years and have data to support how these interventions continue to work.
The GEVS team — consisting of Shelton, assistant principal Randy Closson, both high school counselors, director of instruction Alisa Barrett and superintendent Quincey Gray — evaluated each intervention provided considering things like the expense, time investment, extra work for teachers, how effective each intervention has been, and the percentage of students that would benefit from each intervention.
Eventually, the team landed on Student Success Planning. In April, the teams will begin mapping out the who, when, where and how of it all then the program should be ready to implement in the fall of 2021, Shelton said. The Harvard team will assist the district in implementing the intervention program and will collect the data.
At McClain, the plan will look something like this — students will meet at least quarterly, and more frequently for older students, with a staff member to discuss their career and general interests, course planning, post high school plans, and any other relevant items.
The hope is that by directly addressing identified needs and having the dialogue with students, that students become more engaged in the planning of their future after graduation.
There’s another program aimed at helping students decide on their careers. It is through Ohio’s GRIT project. The program will be piloted in May with seniors who are currently undecided on plans for after graduation, then next year the program will open to sophomores.
Students will be surveyed to determine their interests, then receive coaching from people in those areas of interest, whether that is staff members, business owners, or members of the community.
Throughout the process of both programs, each will be evaluated for effectiveness and changes made when and if necessary, according to Shelton.
“In the end it’s all about helping all students to find success post-graduation,” Shelton said.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield School District.