By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester eighth graders are getting a head start in entering the workforce through a Careers in Canal elective course taught at the middle school.
“Last year we had the opportunity to really reflect and evaluate our related arts course offerings,” said Principal Kelly Zywczyk during an October presentation to the Canal Winchester Board of Education. “We listened to staff and students and surveyed them.”
Out of that survey came the creation and implementation of the Careers in Canal course.
The course introduces students to career opportunities in the local area, financial concepts related to employment, and skills necessary to obtain and keep a job.
“This is basically designed for eighth graders going into to the workforce as early as the summer between their eighth grade and freshman year,” said Assistant Principal Brent Palsgrove. “We’re focusing on how to get a job, now that you have your job how do you keep it, and how to move up. One of the things we wanted to focus on were jobs in the surrounding Canal Winchester area that they can gain as an entry level position. The areas we focused in on where our students currently work are food service, customer service, hospitality and tourism, and logistics and skilled trade.”
Palsgrove said hospitality and tourism have become a large area of interest with all of the shops located downtown and events taking place throughout the year. He said the prospects for employment in Canal Winchester are open to students as young as 14.
“We want our kids to be prepared to meet the workforce,” said Palsgrove. “There are great opportunities here in our local community.”
Financial work-related concepts discussed in the classroom by Work and Family teacher Heather Estep include financial institutions, paychecks, deductions, savings/checking accounts, credit and credit cards and loans.
“Mrs. Estep also talks about skills like how to look people in the eye—the interpersonal skills that many kids lack,” said Palsgrove. “How to talk to people, how to communicate.”
Zywczyk said since Careers in Canal is a new course, it was important to get student feedback. A survey was conducted on Oct. 1. One eighth grader said they were interested in the course because they knew they might have to work while in high school and they wanted to get as much information as possible about getting a job. Students also said they learned it takes a lot of work to get a job, the importance of a resume, and gaining a new outlook on teenage workers in fast food restaurants.
“Teaching Careers in Canal has been a great opportunity for my students to make many real world connections,” said Estep. “They ask many great questions during our discussions and lessons to further seek knowledge about being a teenage employee who is prepared and knowledgeable and eager to join the workforce. They are truly interested in knowing how to be successful in life and embrace our daily lessons.”