Students at Haine Elementary are getting curious about careers with a new program that brings learning about jobs into the classroom—and makes it fun.
“It's just one more way school is preparing students for life,” said principal Michelle Ellis.
As part of the program, which started in September, teachers implement learning about jobs into the curriculum in an organic manner. For example, during an assembly for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program earlier this year that featured a performer, students also discussed the actor’s career in the arts.
When students learned about safety from members of the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company, a correlation to firefighting as a job was made.
It’s those kind of easy connections that make up the career exposure program.
“It’s already embedded into the program, so it’s a natural fit,” said Rozann Lamberto, school counselor at Haine.
The school also has transformed its Large Group Instruction room into the “Career Exposure Center.”
The room features a wall dedicated to nine career clusters, including science and public safety, with illustrations, job facts and student activities that fit into the career clusters.
Then there’s Curious George.
To make the career program fun—and emphasize a literary connection—students are able write a letter to Curious George, the mischievous monkey featured in the children’s book series of the same name, and invite him to join their class anytime they know there will be a career connection.
Lamberto said her intern, Christine Beers, came up with the idea of using Curious George as a mascot for the program—and dubbed it Curious About Careers.
So far, Curious George, a large stuffed animal bought for the school by the Haine PTO, has joined first-graders as they boarded a school bus bound for the Pittsburgh Zoo (and made a connection to careers in the science field) and tagged along with third-grade students as they discussed fire safety with Cranberry firefighters.
“They didn’t just learn about fire safety, they learned about the people who do it for a living,” Lamberto said.
Photos of Curious George with the students taking part in the activities are pinned to the wall in the Career Exposure Center next to the appropriate career cluster.
“They kids really enjoy it,” Lamberto said. “I’m so excited when they remember Curious George can go with them.”
Based on 16 career clusters—including agriculture arts and business—mapped out by the Department of Education to form the state’s “Career Pathway” system, the program is taught in the classroom in a manner of the teachers’ choosing.
Haine isn’t the only school learning about careers. Seneca Valley has implemented the Career Pathways system at the high school level. In this program, students choose classes in the pathway that best prepares them for employment in their chosen field.
For example, under the art, audio/video technology and communication cluster, students would take classes in audio and video technology and film, journalism and broadcasting, telecommunication and other related courses.
Thought the Career Exposure Center, Ellis said she also wanted to introduce students at the elementary level to the career clusters
“I just love to see the kids making the connections,” she said. “It’s a thoughtful approach in a way that makes sense."
The program will continue throughout the school year. Up next, Ellis and Lamberto said they hope to increase parental involvement in the program.