SIDNEY — Senior students from Sidney High School’s Career Communications class recently spent a morning at Brew Nation, presenting personal manifestos and professional resumes to business leaders and Workforce Partners in informal interviews.
Taught by Sidney High School English teacher Sara Olding, in collaboration with Workforce Partnership Director Sharon Maurice, Career Communications functions primarily as a general English course for students who have opted not to take college prep English. Because the 12th grade English curriculum contains many of the same communications standards promoted by the Workforce Partnership, the collaboration between the class and the Workforce Partnership is self-evident. Career Communications provides students who are more likely to be career bound following high school to earn an English credit and gain real world experience to help propel them into the workforce.
“One of the main objectives of the course,” said Olding, “is to help students acquire the skill sets they will need to transition into the workforce or the next phase of their education. We see their progress with this daily. We also aim to help them discover what they want their lives to look like five, ten, and even twenty years from now.”
While that second objective is more of a challenge to measure, Olding and Maurice know the reward for students will be far greater if they can help imagine what it will take to create a future filled with success.
The Manifesto Writing Project is one way they are working toward the goal of helping students define success in their eyes and getting them to consider the qualities they will need to embrace in order for that long-term success.
Born out of Hunter Thompson’s motivational book What’s on Your Top 10 List, the assignment has involved students determining what values they hold dear, what qualities they want to embrace, and what goals they want to achieve. The students spent class time developing their personal manifestos, laboring over precision of language and arrangement of phrases.
“We challenged them to emphasize what they feel is most important in the hopes that this piece of writing will serve as an anchor for them in the coming months as their time at Sidney High School comes to an end and the reality of their future begins,” said Olding.
The students also spent time decorating canvases on which their personal manifestos would be displayed, serving as a way to further showcase their personalities and values.
At the mixer event at Brew Nation, students proudly displayed their decorative manifestos and professional resumes as they met with local business leaders and participated in informal interviews, discussing the manifestos, their interests, and their plans following high school.
“Communicating with adults in a professional setting was an invaluable experience for our students,” added Olding. “Some students were terribly nervous, some were reluctant to participate at first, but all of them returned to the high school feeling a true sense of accomplishment. The more interaction students have with the professional world, the closer they get to a clear understanding of what success looks like.”
Maurice added, “When students can directly see and hear from our partners that they are genuinely interested in their success and continue to see they are investing in their futures, it is a win-win for everyone. This event only solidifies our partners’ commitment to our students, our schools and our community. Bringing our students and community leaders together to a downtown establishment only reinforces, that working together, we can keep our community strong and vibrant for many years to come.”
The mission of the Workforce Partnership is to align the workforce and education systems to respond to the skills needs of business and industry in Shelby County. Through the partnership, schools and industry work together to build workforce training and 21st century skills development programs to prepare students and employees for current and future local jobs.
Through events and collaborations such as this, the Workforce Partnership works with public and private partners to create a more coherent and flexible workforce development system that connects local students to jobs in Shelby County.