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Baldwin-Whitehall school officials to consider career-building program

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A blueprint for student career development in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District could begin in the sixth grade.

Guidance supervisor Stephanie McHugh presented the program at the April 2 Baldwin-Whitehall School Board meeting. The program would help students, in the sixth grade through their senior year, create a pathway to a career, if the school board approves the purchase.

“We really looked (at programs) with a thoughtful eye,” McHugh said. “Some of (these students) will have jobs that have never been envisioned or created. We need to best prepare students for things that have yet to be imagined.”

The program costs $4,000 for the first year and $2,500 for every additional year, said Mark Cherpak, the district's business manager. The school board is not scheduled to vote on the program until May at the earliest.

McHugh started the guidance advisory committee, composed of administrators, teachers, parents and a student, earlier this year to assess the district's career exploration and educational resources and needs, she said. The goal was to find one solution.

The program provides ways for students to build electronic portfolios and add career- and resume-building elements each year.

The sixth and seventh grades will be for transition and addressing short- and long-term goals; and education and games in the eighth grade will provide possible career options, McHugh said.

Freshmen will add volunteer and work experience, as well as a four-year course plan to the portfolio; sophomores will add assessment results; juniors will develop a postsecondary plan and/or school options; senior profiles pull together all of the elements from the previous six years to prepare students for the high school graduation project, McHugh said.

The games and tests on the Career Cruising program help target a student's learning style and match his or her skills to possible careers, McHugh said. It also will help them build resumes and track college applications and scholarships.

Another element of the program is “The Real Game,” which helps develop students' financial literacy, McHugh said. Students can plot out an imaginary budget based on the careers they want, bills they will pay, factoring in student loan debt and other expenses.

School Board Vice President Kevin Fischer said he is in favor of the program.

“I certainly support it. I think it's great,” Fischer said.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at lvanwert@tribweb.com.

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