TOWNSHEND – It’s towards the end of the school year, but the folks at Leland & Gray Union High School are already getting ready for the next school year.
âLast year we did ‘Senior Survival’,â said Terry Davison Berger, the school’s multi-course coordinator. âBut it was for the elderly only. We hope that this CFES Brilliant Pathways grant can help us further facilitate college and career preparation for students in Grades 9-11.
Leland & Gray was one of five schools in Vermont that qualified for the program, which offers schools a comprehensive and multi-faceted college preparation program. One of the requirements for receiving aid is for a school to demonstrate its commitment to making the program a success.
âWe’re doing a really good job making sure our oldest leaves with a plan,â said Sarah Grasso, school counselor. “But we always wanted our 9th graders to think about their plan as well.”
Grasso said Leland & Gray just didn’t have the staff and resources to extend senior survival to the earlier classes, but with help from Brilliant Pathways it can now happen from next year. .
Senior Survival focuses on how to conduct a job search, apply for a job and write a resume and cover letter, and prepare for an interview, Berger said.
âExtending it to grades 9-11 is the next logical step,â said principal Bob Thibault. “This collection of experiences … we should make sure all the kids have it.”
The support Leland & Gray will get from Brilliant Pathways is about $ 25,000 per year in services, he said.
CFES Brilliant Pathways is a college and non-profit career development organization based in Essex, NY
âToo many rural youth lack the skills and education to take on the well-paying jobs of today, and they are therefore excluded from the 21st century economy,â said Rick Dalton, President and CEO from the leadership of CFES Brilliant Pathways, in a press release. “The goal of this program is to level the playing field for a large group of rural students and, ultimately, rural communities.”
âBrilliant Pathways will have someone available to work with us in creating this,â Berger said. âWe have the vision and the desire, but what was difficult was finding the time to work out the logistics and the details.
According to the CFES press release, a dedicated professional program director from Brilliant Pathways will conduct in-person and virtual tours throughout the year to help guide the development of college and career plans.
Each participating student will complete a 10-point college and career preparation plan each year that is certified by CFES.
âThey will provide a very nice structure,â said Grasso. âTerry and I can sit in a room and come up with great ideas, but rationalizing them is sometimes a challenge. “
Berger said the new program can help younger students better understand what jobs might be available for them after graduation.
âFrom there, we’ll get them to think about how to plan for the next few years,â she said. “What kind of course they should take, what kind of community service or extracurricular activity can support that career goal.”
Grasso admitted that what a student might be interested in in their freshman year may not be what interests them by the time they’re senior.
âWe hope that we can create the conversation, the vocabulary, the language that will follow them throughout their four years,â she said, âso that when they get to their first year, it’s not the time to go. first time they think about it … Their Grade 9 job may not be their Grade 12 job, but they’ll have the resources and connections to handle that growth. “
âFor students, even if they don’t plan on going to college, it will give them marketable skills to get a solid job after graduation,â Berger said.
Grasso said one of the services CFES provides is to match students with a mentor in an area they want to explore.
âThe kids will have the option of being matched with someone from, say, NASA or California,â she said.
Thibault said the high school had previously partnered with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation to deliver programs as part of its Pipelines and Pathways program, helping students become ‘Windham Work Ready,’ by developing their maintenance skills and CVs and making connections with local employers.
âPart of that mission is to help the children who stay in Windham County get established quickly and be ready to work after graduation,â he said.