Real World Learning

You don’t have to figure out your life at age 13, but Ridgeview Junior High School helps you start exploring life after high school by age 13!

Ridgeview Junior High School, in the Pickerington Local School District, is giving kids the opportunity to experience the real world while they help the community.

“In Pickerington, we start talking careers when they’re in kindergarten with career days,” said Eileen McGarvey, a school counselor at Ridgeview. “Then the real exploration starts in grade 6.”

The Ohio Department of Education is proud to see schools linking day-to-day education with the jobs children will have after they graduate from high school. Career exploration should be embedded into the school day so that students discover work environments and the skills needed to become productive and engaged citizens.

There are many practical ways for teachers and school counselors, families and community members to show students, as early as in kindergarten, the types of jobs possible.

Here are a few ideas that show how Ridgeview is making it happen:

  • Advisory Periods: Provide teachers with an advisory lesson and make time daily for students to create goals for the future, learn about real world challenges and connect what they’re learning to life outside the classroom. Ridgeview also uses this time for students to take the lead in coordinating meetings with their parents and teachers, which helps them learn accountability and organization of their career planning progress.
  • Cross-Subject Projects: Link skills from different subjects to show students their learning is interconnected, rather than isolated, information.
  • College and Career Days: Invite professional guests to come to school and share with students during the lunch period. Ridgeview has had helicopter pilots, scientists, military service members, and local business owners visit with students.
  • Family Nights: Invite families to talk with college representatives, including financial experts who can explain savings plans for higher education and other financial needs.
  • Service Learning Opportunities: Partner with community businesses and leaders to involve students in a local project challenge that links what they learn in the classroom to what they can do in the real world.
  • Make a Difference Day: Plan one day where the entire school plays an active role in serving the community.

Through local service-learning opportunities and design challenges, real world learning is happening inside and outside the classroom. Ridgeview students have learned project management and 21st century skills. Projects have included helping their local food bank gain awareness and increase donations, supporting the city manager with anti-drug marketing campaign ideas, and even designing an outdoor learning lab for their school and writing grants to fund the lab.

Inside the classroom, all teachers help students research and prepare their presentations. Outside the classroom, everyone—the students, their families and the community—gets involved in the activities to make the learning happen and prepare students for successful futures.

“We have a clear vision of what we want our students to become: clear communicators and collaborators, successful in the workplace and socially responsible while giving back to the community,” said Susan Caudill, principal at Ridgeview. “We want them to be successful on whatever path they choose.”

Your turn!

How are you helping students make the right career connections inside and outside the classroom? You can find more ideas right here.

What’s your story?

Tell us what you’re doing to get students prepared for life beyond high school. Email us.

Last Modified: 7/24/2015 12:14:40 PM