Yuma-ABEC Middle School Career Exploration project – a collaborative effort between the Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC), the Yuma County School Superintendent’s office, and various community partners – was recently awarded a $25,000 grant by the Arizona Community Foundation of Yuma.
For many students, their most vivid and long-held dreams revolve around what they want to be when they grow up. Through the Career Exploration Project, the Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) is helping middle school students give their dreams more definition and figure out how to spin those ideas into motion when the time comes.
Last year, the eight-year-old program expanded to Yuma schools, offering students an up-close encounter with their dream jobs. Partnering with local business communities, the program builds modules to help students better understand the relevance of their education to their future and the way they want to shape it.
Nine modules are currently offered to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in Yuma County, with plans for more to be added as bridges continue to be built between Yuma’s education and business realms. In classroom electives or after-school programming, students are immersed in a semester of construction, management and entrepreneurship, culinary arts, agriculture, health occupations, public safety, coding robotics, digital media or engineering and actively apply the information they’re given through activities that focus on workforce demands.
“They’re not just turning pages of pamphlets,” Yuma ABEC Project Lead Joena Ezroj said. “They’re getting hands-on, authentic and conceptual learning that changes their perspective of education and what it’s actually like to work in those jobs.”
Many students come out of a module feeling more certain about their dreams, eager to continue down the route to turning them into a career. Some realize they want to do something different from what they originally thought.
By John Marinelli, Sun staff writer
Getting ready for what comes after graduation is a pretty critical task for students, and one that often falls by the wayside in the hectic environment of middle and high school.
That’s why educators in Yuma, with the help of business leaders, are introducing a new “career exploration” program in middle and junior high schools around the area that aims to get kids thinking about what they want to do after getting their diploma.
Dubbed the Middle School Career Exploration Project, it’s spearheaded by the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, or ABEC, a group of educational institutions, businesses, nonprofits and government agencies working together to improve Arizona’s educational system.
By John Marinelli
When most think about school, they think about putting pencil to paper, crunching numbers or memorizing state capitals. But classes like shop and home economics often provide just as many learning opportunities.
That’s why two Yuma Elementary School District One schools, Gila Vista and Fourth Avenue Junior High, have implemented a pilot program that brings back those electives.
Through a partnership with the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, or ABEC, they’ve been able to partner with local businesses and get industry experts into schools to teach the tricks of their trades.
Jon Kovesdy of McCarthy construction is one of those industry experts, stopping by both Gila Vista and Fourth Avenue whenever they have construction class, helping them with their respective projects.
Gila Vista’s students, separated into four crews, are constructing a garden bed each, meant to be used for an agriculture class that the school has planned for next year. Kovesdy said that things in the class are coming along well, if a little slow.
“The fact that we can start applying the math and fractions into this, it’s really so cool,” he said over the din of screwdrivers and the whirring of saws during a construction class at Gila Vista on Thursday.
BY JOYCE LOBECK, Yuma County Chamber of Commerce
Unusual is the 7th- or 8th-grader who knows what he or she wants to be when they grow up and is on a committed path toward that goal. That's even more often the case when it comes to children who come from lower-income families, students who probably don't have access to career information that opens up the possibilities to them.
That's about to change for two middle schools in Yuma Elementary School District 1, Gila Vista and Fourth Avenue junior high schools, through a project slated to get off the ground with the start of the new semester. It's a schedule that has supporters on a fast track to get it going. But they have help.
They have the model and support of the Middle School Career Exploration Project that was developed through the Arizona Business Education Coalition, a non-partisan, statewide organization that brings together business, education and community leaders to support public education in Arizona.
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