- Thoreau Park Elementary School
PCSD Workforce Development prepares students for success after graduation
November 4, 2019
Students throughout the Parma City School District are getting a jump-start on developing important life skills after graduation through PCSD Connects.
Chuck Caldwell, PCSD’s administrative specialist for workforce development, said PCSD Connects has been focusing on college and career readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship with students at both the elementary and secondary levels.
“One of the big things I wanted to do this year with the program is mock interviews with all of our vocational students,” he explained. “On a Monday of a week, I will go into the classroom and do a resume writing and interview skills workshop with the students. Then that Friday I will bring in industry professionals that will run mock interviews. It’s just an opportunity for students to go through the interview process in a no-pressure situation, but they are expected to dress up, provide resumes and make a good first impression.”
Caldwell added they focus on interview etiquette, such as shaking hands, eye contact and posture, as well as provide feedback to students after their completed interview.
In addition, PCSD Connects continues to have speaker luncheons and breakfasts, where professionals from a variety of careers interact with students, plus provide access to college visits and unique career-focused programs.
He is also working to help students receive internships and apprenticeships they can be ready to join the workforce right out of high school.
“I always tell students to take advantage of the opportunities here and to explore career paths early,” Caldwell said. “A lot of kids don’t have these opportunities, then they go to college, waste two years and a lot of money to find out they don’t like something. They have a really awesome opportunity here at PCSD to focus on a career and find out if they like it or not before they go on to college or a career.”
At the middle school level, career speakers come in during learning labs as well as a career and technical education showcase for students to mingle with high school students in career tech programs.
“Students will hear from at least two speakers, some of them might hear from three, but it’s a variety of careers to expose them to possible career opportunities,” he explained. “I try to pick businesses and professionals that correlate to our career tech programs.”
New this year, PCSD Connect will be hosting a life-size version of The Game of Life for middle school students.
“The student will have to choose college or career, then pick a house and car, while learning about retirement funds, taxes, social security and insurance,” Caldwell described. “Every once in a while we might stop them and say ‘you were in a car accident and you have to pay a deductible or medical bills.’ So there will be unforeseen circumstances that happen in life and they will have to manage those things. In the end, they will have to budget their money, so they have money left over at the end of the month after paying utilities and other bills based on the house, car and lifestyle they have.”
“We did a similar budgeting activity last year, which was fine, but this will be more interactive and fun for the students,” he added. “Maybe even be a better learning opportunity.”
The program will once again hold Young Entrepreneur’s Day on March 7, 2020 for students in grades 3 – 6 to present their business ideas to the community and a panel of judges. Last year, about $1,500 in prizes were awarded to students who participated.
In general, Caldwell said his main goal is to help students connect to opportunities and build partnerships within the community.
“I want our community to see our schools and the great opportunities we have,” he shared. “We have qualified employees right here in our schools and I want our business and organizations to see that. A lot of our kids do stay in the Parma area, so why not work with students to keep them here and groom them at the high school level to be successful in our community.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Students at Shiloh Middle School learn about the Career and Technical Education Auto Service Technology program from high school students enrolled in the class. This career readiness experience is provided through workforce development programs provided by the PCSD.