The Wright City R-II School District will dedicate a full-time staff member to preparing students for the workforce.
While the district has scored well on its Annual Performance Report (APR) assessment of career and college readiness, Superintendent Dr. David Buck says there is always room for improvement, especially in areas that get overlooked.
“We want to bridge the gap between us and local employers,” said Buck. “We have great employers in our area, but the kids aren’t as interested in the local jobs.”
Buck says part of that is attributed to the societal perception that college is the preferred path, with trade jobs getting less attention. He says many students overlook the option of staying near home and working locally.
“Not every kid goes to college,” said Buck. “If you look at the numbers, it’s actually only about half, so we want to make sure we’re investing in those kids who are choosing other routes.”
High school counselor Abigail Jackson will assume the role of Career Education Counselor for sixth through 12th grades.
“Last year we had a conversation with our board of education concerning whether our counselors have enough time to do career counseling,” said Buck. “What we realized is they’re really busy with guidance tasks and getting kids ready for college.”
Buck says those counselors are bound to particular buildings, so having Jackson in multiple campus locations will be helpful.
With this expansion comes the addition of two new opportunities for students, including apprenticeships at the high school level.
“We will be working with kids who are not going to college to find out what they want to do,” said Buck.
A teen leadership class will be implemented as a required sophomore class, while the middle school will add a required project-based learning class.
“We want to incorporate local businesses as much as possible,” said Buck.
Students will work on soft skills and understanding the personal strengths necessary to succeed at the business level.
Buck says he will also encourage teachers to go and spend time working in local businesses as part of “externships,” creating a connection between school and community.