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Developing real-world skills

Aislinn Abbott at York County School of Technology

York County School of Technology explains why it decided to offer the Career-related Programme to its students

Career-related Programme (CP) students at York County School of Technology, Pennsylvania, USA, want to work in sectors as diverse as medicine, neuroprosthetics, personal training and automotive technology.

They’re being helped to achieve their ambitions because of the CP’s flexible framework, which includes at least two academic Diploma Programme (DP) courses, a unique CP core fostering students’ employability skills, and vocational career-related study. This means students aged 16 to 18 can continue with academic studies alongside practical training in their chosen career path, while keeping their options open regarding further or higher education.

As a comprehensive technical high school, York County School of Technology already provided high-quality, hands-on technical training for students. “But the addition of the DP coursework and the core within their career pathway provides yet another opportunity for developing real-world skills that can be applied to whatever the students’ post-secondary aspirations may be,” says Jody Kessinger, CP Coordinator at the school. “The CP certainly accompanies our mission of producing students who are college and career ready.”

Aaliyiah and Evelyn at York County School of Technology

Kessinger adds: “We offered the CP this year as a value-added programme for students. It provides additional opportunities for students to engage in research and issues with global significance, and act on their passion for learning and helping others.”

Its 11 CP students have chosen one of seven career-related pathways: Sports Technology and Exercise Science, Medical Professions, Precision Metal Machining, Automotive Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Culinary Arts and Communication Technology. Students spend between 10-12 hours per week in their career-related study.

CP student Aaliyiah Moye-Tati, who is studying the Medical Professions pathway and hopes to become a certified nurse practitioner, says: “The CP is a great way to get us ready for our career pathway.”

The core

Integral to the CP is the core, which involves a reflective project, personal and professional skills (PPS), language development and service learning. To accommodate an already packed student schedule, the school has developed a course for its CP students called IB Seminar/PPS to cover these components.

Cameron Leubecker at York County School of Technology

“The CP adds a lot of variety to my day. I like the different activities and discussions we have in our IB Seminar/PPS course,” says CP student Evelyn Resto, who is following the Medical Professions pathway and hopes to become a surgeon in the future.

As part of service learning, one student is organizing a county-wide robotics team for younger children and those with special needs. “She is using her experience from her technical programme, DP physics course, and her own knowledge to develop and lead this programme. Her efforts have been outstanding and she has a true passion for sharing her knowledge and skills,” says Kessinger.


Destiny Weitkamp at York County School of Technology


One of the school’s Medical Professions students is volunteering at York Hospital. “While there is an obvious connection to her technical programme, there was a link to her communication and speaking abilities related to her DP language and literature course. Her action plan included all of the requirements as far as application, clearances, and the interview required to be a volunteer,” says Kessinger. “Both students recognize the global significance of lending their skills and passion for the greater good.”

The students are only in the first term of the course but are finding it both rewarding and relevant. Aislinn Abbott, who is studying Precision Metal Machining, and hopes to work in the field of neuroprosthetics, says: “The programme gives us a platform to discuss topics more in-depth than in a typical school setting.”

Noah Genco at York County School of Technology

Student Destiny Weitkamp, who is studying sports technology and exercise science, and hopes to be a personal trainer, says: “The CP is a great way to engage with others that you normally may not meet on a day-to-day basis. This programme also challenges you in ways that other courses wouldn’t.”

Making connections

Students are able to see the link between their academic studies and the rest of the CP. “The academic courses support both the core and their career-related study in a way that allows for collaboration among the students and a connection between common themes within the IB programme,” says Kessinger.

“It also provides an opportunity for students to engage in learning opportunities because of the communication between teachers working with these students in academic subjects and their technical programmes.”

Angela Gonzalez at York County School of Technology

Kessinger gives the example of an Automotive Technology student who is taking the DP physics course. His physics teacher is also the lead carpenter for school productions. “Our fall play is a ‘steam punk’ version of Alice in Wonderland, and the teacher mentioned the need for some cake stands made out of metal for the stage. The two were able to communicate plans and drawings, and the student created three amazing pieces to be used in the production. The student was able to use a variety of skills to create the pieces and both the academic and technical teachers were able to support the student’s learning and creativity,” she says.

It’s collaborations like this that show the transformative nature of the CP.

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