6 local districts join forces with the Consortium for Public Education program to prepare students for careers
A local collaboration that helps students prepare for future success has launched an initiative with six area school districts to create a path toward this goal.
The nonprofit Consortium for Public Education works in partnership with the school districts of Burrell and Deer Lakes in the Allegheny Valley, the school districts of Greensburg Salem and Jeannette City in Westmoreland County, and the school districts of Woodland Hills and Cornell in Allegheny County for a program called “Positioning Students for Future Success.”
The program will focus on three key areas identified during sessions with representatives from participating districts – improving school design, strengthening family engagement and increasing students’ career preparation.
“During the covid-19 pandemic, schools had to make a lot of changes,” said Mary Kay Babyak, CEO of CPE. “Some of the changes worked well, some didn’t. But all the schools agreed they needed to do a better job of engaging with students.
Babyak said the CPE can help districts who have ideas for better ways to engage with students or achieve other goals they have set for themselves.
“We can provide them with the resources to help them meet the needs they identify,” she said.
Deer Lakes School District officials welcome the opportunity to partner with the organization, the spokesperson said Shawn Annarelli.
“We look forward to meeting with the Public Education Consortium to learn more about the initiative to improve school design, strengthen family engagement, and increase student readiness in the future.” said Annarelli.
Annarelli said the district has already received help by partnering with the organization.
Last year, CPE helped the district develop an Educator in the Workforce program, which provided 13 staff with four weeks of training to develop and implement further project-based learning in the classroom, a- he declared.
The district also received help from the organization last year for its Future Readiness Lab, a program that helps students explore their career goals so they can develop a strategy to achieve them, according to Annarelli.
With funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, CPE’s assistance can range from providing outside expertise to help solve a problem to conducting the research necessary to properly solve a problem.
Babyak said one of the benefits of bringing together representatives from multiple districts is that it gives them the opportunity to see how others might approach a problem or solve a problem.
“They can discuss what’s going on in their neighborhoods, exchange ideas and collaborate on solutions,” she said.
Burrell Superintendent Shannon L. Wagner said the district is “excited to be a part of such a large network of schools” and looks forward to learning more about the individualized student learning plans used by other districts.
“We hope to share our work in social and emotional learning with other districts,” she said, citing the Jesse Lewis Choose Love enrichment program used by Burrell. It focuses on four pillars: courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. “When we talk about future skills for our students, emotional intelligence is built into the skills needed for the job. “
Wagner said the CPE would also help the district provide professional development for teachers “to relate their grade content / grade to career preparation awareness and strategies for their grade content / grade.”
Jeannette City School District Superintendent Matt Jones was excited about the opportunities the initiative could provide for students in the district.
“This allows us to partner with other school districts and share ideas for building the capacity of our students in the workforce after graduation,” he said. “Often we operate in a bubble. “
This means that staff members can choose the brains of their regional counterparts with the aim of opening up opportunities that they might not otherwise have known for students.
This could help students enter the workforce right out of high school in their own community or in others in the area.
CPE selected the districts to create a diverse pool of participants, Babyak said. Cornell and Jeannette City are small districts, Deer Lakes and Burrell are rural, and Woodland Hills and Greensburg Salem represent urban districts.
Greensburg Salem Acting Superintendent Kenneth A. Bissell said the district has a nearly two-decade relationship with CPE and looks forward to engaging with other districts “to learn and collaborate for change.”
“We always look to them for support in what we would like to do in teaching, learning, staff support and business partnerships,” he said.
“I see Greensburg Salem helping to lead discussions on standards-based learning, which will eventually lead to improvements and changes in the design of schools for personalized learning and will focus our efforts on our mission of future readiness for all of our children. “
Bissell said he hoped the collaboration between the CPE and the six districts would help “change a system that hasn’t changed.”
“We have introduced new technologies, buildings and tools,” he said. “But the system continues to value time before learning and compare children with children instead of valuing learning over time and each child by level of learning.”