Helping Secondary Students Contend With Post-Graduation Options

There’s an item on my to-do list that’s lingered for months:  not a now thing.  It’s an odd name for an action item, but consider it a secret family code.

I’ve been intrigued by the notion of jumping on board the Twitter express and of establishing a personal website as my on-line home.  The website, as originally envisioned, would be a private one accessible to extended family members and close friends only.  It would also be a platform for sharing my son’s artwork with those we know well.  The concept intrigued him and in the evenings he’d ask, “Mama, can we do the website now?”  Given that the question was often posed with five minutes to go until bedtime, my answer was, “No, it’s not a now thing.”  Thus, the cryptic notation on my to-do list.

Reema Faris .com KeyboardWith my decision to run as a Trustee candidate for the West Vancouver Board of Education, the not a now thing has become a done thing albeit in a different format and for a different reason.  It’s a step I had wanted to take, was hesitant about taking, and then was propelled into taking as circumstances unfolded.  I had to make new decisions and had to face the requirement for immediate action.  A looming election date is a strong motivator!

This personal progression has made me reflect on a question that’s already popped up a number of times during the campaign. This question is often framed in the context of whether the emphasis on educating our students for a post secondary career in academics neglects opportunities for graduates who may be inclined to other avenues of study.

What a challenging question!  We live in a time of straitened resources and there’s very little success to be found when organizations attempt to be “all things to all people”.  There are other factors to consider, too.  For example, family expectations and pressures which are private and individual to each situation.  For those of us who’ve accumulated life and work experience, we also know that our paths and our destinations often change in unexpected ways.

With these and other factors in mind, what role might the school district play in accommodating different learning intentions?

It would seem to me that the answer is not to force students into career decisions too soon, but rather to offer broad horizons for them to consider and to equip them with the tools needed to consider and weigh their options.  Providing the resources to investigate alternatives and enabling them to become better decision makers with regard to their own learning and course of studies.  Work experience programs, summer internships, guest presentations by working professionals, in residence programs, assemblies focused on career planning, increased counseling support — I’m sure much is already being done and I think there are a myriad of other options which might also be explored.

It would be great to have the opportunity to work with our community of educators on a well-integrated range of programs and initiatives to let West Vancouver students know that while their career choices may not be a now thing, they have been well-prepared to find their own way among the many, many options available to them.

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