PivotED - (May)
A newsletter (for adults) about career-connected learning (for kids).
In lieu of my usual newsletter introduction, I will simply share with you that ASA is deeply troubled and saddened by the mounting violence in our schools and our society. We mourn alongside an entire country shaken by the devastating loss of life happening in our schools and communities. We stand united with the students and families, educators and community leaders in Uvalde, Texas, who are trying to make sense of the tragic deaths of their loved ones — many of whom were elementary school children.
It is unspeakable. It is heartbreaking. And it needs to stop.
President & CEO,
American Student Assistance
Henley Middle School 8th Graders Explore High School CTE Options
The Story: This middle school in Oregon was one of twenty in the state that participated in the pilot of a career technical education (CTE) program. In this program, kids take an aptitude test that measures their unique strengths and points them to career cluster options; designed to help them understand strengths they may not be aware of. For 8th-grader Rachel, agriculture came up as one possible strength, alongside a number of STEM options. Rachel has now “had a chance to weld, drive a robot, create an image in Photoshop, extract strawberry DNA, and learn about Henley’s FFA program, which manages a greenhouse and raises steers, lambs, and chickens.” “I’m kind of leaning towards agriculture, but I’m going to try different things,” she shared with the paper.
The Bottom Line: This is just one school in one state, but stories like these drive home how powerful these programs can be. That Rachel is “leaning towards agriculture” but “going to try different things” isn’t just a partial indication of the program’s success…it’s absolutely a desired end-state. For many kids, getting to know what they like and what they are good at never happens. Getting to understand and even try very specific career-related work will help Rachel and her peers make decisions that are based less on guesses, and more on data, experience and personal choice.
The Winners of ASA Solve Together 2.0 Showcase Gen Z Ingenuity — and a Hopeful Outlook for the Future
The Story: The ASA Solve Together Challenge is a national competition designed to encourage career exploration and skill-building for middle school students through project-based learning and teamwork. Participants were asked to choose from four timely topics for their projects: Public Health, Climate Change, Colonizing Mars, and a Passion Project, based on an issue they care about. Some of this year’s winners included: a group of 7th-graders from New Jersey who created a prototype for an enhanced public transit system that poses less risk to declining bee populations; an 8th-grade team that developed a solution to utilize the LaGrange points on Mars; and an 8th-grade team that developed a new approach for boosting post-pandemic mental health.
The Bottom Line: It is remarkable what kids can and will come up with when given a task and the inspiration to work (and solve) together. I am beyond proud of all the kids who participated, and I’m eager to build on this work so more kids can help imagine, design, and ultimately build the future they want to be a part of.
The Gen-Z CEO and Influencer with Almost 3 Million Followers Explains How She Makes It Work
The Story: When Nadya Okamoto was 16 she started the nonprofit PERIOD to address what’s known as “period poverty” and advocate for fairer policies for women and girls. Today, at 24, she is a social media influencer, has written a book called PERIOD POWER, and her social entrepreneurship inspires girls everywhere. In this Q&A with Fortune, she explains how she got to where she is today and how she deals with her own doubts and frustrations.
The Bottom Line: As powerful as Okamoto’s work is, what I’m most inspired by is her personal story and how we can bottle up the elements of it that can be taught and modeled for other young people so they can find their callings. “I was inspired to get involved with period advocacy work when I was 16 and learned about period poverty and related injustices…” she shares. For kids today, being taught about things that transcend traditional textbook learning — even things that may seem unrelated to jobs— is critical to helping them understand the world and their place in it. You never know what young entrepreneurial minds may come up with!
37% of U.S. High School Students Report Regular Mental Health Struggles During COVID-19
An alarming 37% of high schoolers reported that their mental health was not good “most of the time or always” during the pandemic, and 44% said that that at some point in the past year, they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row to the extent that they stopped doing their usual activities. Girls and students who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual were much more likely to report to these feelings and impacts.
The Bottom Line: This story is a stark reminder to adults to keep mental health and wellness front and center as you plan activities for children and teenagers. It remains to be seen what the full extent of the mental health toll of the pandemic will be on young lives. Much like career exploration activities, though, starting early in discussing mental health, letting kids know they are supported, and offering them resources and help before they need them are critical to helping them thrive. As an added bonus, a strong focus on mental wellness can help kids find the clarity they need to think about and plan for their future.
Conditions of Career Readiness in the U.S. (Research from the Coalition for Career Development Center)
Lessons in Adolescence/Youth-Nex: Remaking Middle School (A research-focused podcast with Dr. Rahul Choudaha and Julie Lammers/Apple Podcasts)
College Students are Overestimating the Salaries They’ll Start Out At by $50,000 (A report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers)
The Uncertain Pathway from Youth to a Good Job (A report from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce)
Don’t Just Pay Interns, Help Them Build Networks (Harvard Business Review, May 25, 2022)
Gen Z Career Learning is About Agency, Voice and Choice (ASA Newsroom, May 16, 2022)
Memphis’ Power 1,000 Internships Aim to Help High School Students Gain Work Skills (Chalkbeat, April 25, 2022)
High School Students’ Interest in Humanities Outpaces Other Subjects (K-12 Dive, May 18, 2022)
Clark County School District Expanding Career Technical Education with $100,000 Grant from Google (Nevada Business, May 19, 2022)
Best Practices in Work-Based Learning Ensure Broad Eligibility and Widespread Access (ASA Newsroom, May 16, 2022)
The Future of Work Starts Early in This California District…Just Ask a Fifth Grader (Hechinger Report, April 28, 2022)
Detracking in K-12 Classrooms (U.S. News & World Report, May 17, 2022)
Immersive Virtual Career Exploration Program for Middle and High Schoolers
Registrations Open to Teachers & Students from April 13-June 22, 2022
Jobs for the Future (JFF) Horizons National Summit June 7-8, 2022, New Orleans
LearnLaunch Institute K12 Innovation Summit June 23, 2022, Boston
Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) Annual Conference
Virtual, November 3-5, 2022