The Clarke Community School district plans to make its highly-anticipated Career Academy available to students at the beginning of the 2017 school year. The program will provide students with hands-on experience in careers of interest and will allow students to focus their areas of study toward a career path as early as ninth grade.
Clarke Schools already provides students the opportunity to take college-level courses through Southwest Iowa Community College (SWICC). The Career Academy is designed to help students choose a path of study that will eventually lead them to a career after college or even right out of high school.
The district’s new curriculum director, Jean Bahls, has spearheaded the development of the Career Academy since her start at Clarke and hopes it will supplement core curriculum to equip students with the tools they need to have a career-focused future. Studies show that developing career goals early in life can motivate students to get good grades, apply for scholarships and feel more confident about their future.
“We hope to expand the leadership curriculum already offered at Clarke,” says Bahls, “After speaking with employers in Osceola, it’s clear that there’s a demand for better soft skills. The program is designed to help young people become more employable.”
In 2017, the program will be offered to students alongside their current curriculum in school. The vision is to eventually expand the program to its own facility, like the one currently offered to students at Central Campus in Des Moines, a campus solely dedicated to students’ career readiness.
Career Academy track offerings will include manufacturing, agriculture studies, business and even hospitality training.
The Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) has supported the initiative by working with area businesses to gain their participation in mentoring students, giving facility tours and demonstrating to students what a career in each track would entail.
“As E. Eddy Saylor, founder of the CCDC was often heard saying,” Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the Development Corporation stated, “’It all starts with a paycheck.’”
The structure of the Clarke Career Academy curriculum is still under development. Bahls plans for Pathway Exploration classes to start in ninth grade to introduce students to job opportunities right here in Osceola. In eleventh grade, students will begin Career Exploration, which will allow them to develop skills relevant to their area of interest and spend time at area businesses.
Bahls also plans to offer leadership classes tailored to career pathways, as well as several classes designed to help students seek employment, such as interpersonal skill development, entrepreneurship and communication.
For more information about the Career Academy program at Clarke Schools, contact Jean Bahls through the Clarke Community School District, 800 N Jackson St, Osceola, IA 50213, phone: 641-342-6505. www.clarke.k12.ia.us/