By Maureen Reed
Our children have the right to a quality education and selfishly, our future society depends on them. We need a school system that helps to develop employability skills, provides opportunities, and encourages our children to be confident in their career choices.
What an exciting variety of career opportunities awaiting our children! Over the next 10 years, some of the fastest growing occupations include wind turbine service technicians, solar installers, information security analysts, motion picture projectionists, ushers/lobby attendants and ticket takers, nurse practitioners, statisticians, and animal caretakers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, “Occupational Outlook Handbook Fastest Growing Occupations.” How do we ensure our children will have the tools to pursue any career opportunity?
A few years ago, the Wallingford education system, in collaboration with HUBCAP, a committee which includes educators, the community and business owners, began to help students successfully explore career opportunities. The mission of HUBCAP is to increase college and career readiness while expanding downtown businesses. HUBCAP is defined as “HUB,” standing for “in the HUB of Wallingford” and “CAP,” representing the Capstone projects of Wallingford high school students (hubcapwallingford.org). (By the way, collaboration of business, educators and the community, adds no additional cost to taxpayers.)
Subsequent to the Wallingford education system embedding the Capstone project into the curriculum, the state legislature ruled to require all CT high school students, beginning with the class of 2023, complete the Capstone project (Mastery Based Performance Assessment) prior to graduating. In my role as the assistant principal of curriculum in my district, I have spearheaded the Capstone or Mastery Based Performance Assessment efforts over the last three years. I understand the magnitude of this graduation requirement. It calls for input and creativity from students, parents, teachers, BOE members, and the business community.
It is evident that Wallingford gathered that input and created a plan for students and parents to follow. The Wallingford Curriculum Planning guide 2019-2020 clearly links the Capstone project with future career opportunities through five Career Pathway Options (Art/Communication, Business/Entrepreneurship, Engineering/Technology, Government/Human Services, Science/Health). Counselors and parents work with students to choose a pathway, and design their own 9-12 course study aligned to college and career. Please take note that the U.S. Department of Labor’s growing careers easily fall into one of these pathway options. Wallingford is successfully preparing its children for the future. I commend the Wallingford school district and the business community for providing students with a way to pursue their passion.
This past year has been challenging for our children. In addition, high school students historically face indecision over choosing a career at age 18. Our community needs to support students in whichever post-secondary route they choose, including: attending four-year college, a community college, a gap year, a Trade school, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, study abroad, entering the workforce, or enlisting in the military. Based on a HUBCAP web page, their pipeline program even helps recruit, assess and train undergraduates or high school seniors who have chosen not to pursue higher education, in fields such as healthcare and manufacturing, etc.
My husband and I are proud that our own four children have chosen individual pathways. We have a Wilcox Technical High School grad, two Sheehan High school grads, and our youngest is a senior in the Lyman Hall Ag-Ed program.
Education is the key that unlocks our children’s individuality, inspiring them to positively contribute to our society. We must continue to offer the quality of education we always have in Wallingford. We must also grow our program so ALL students will pursue many career choices, especially those predicted to increase and those that will evolve. As one of the most evolutionary thinkers of our time, Nelson Mandela, has stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Dr. Maureen Reed, a Democratic candidate running for the Wallingford Board of Education, is a resident of Wallingford and assistant principal of curriculum at Cheshire High School.