An Example of Exceptional Career Awareness Programs

Earlier this year Tricia and I had the opportunity to take a trip to Perry, Ohio to visit some long-time clients of ours, Perry Local Schools. Neither one of us were quite prepared for the dynamic and creative programs they had in store for us to check out. 

First stop, the STNA classroom.

This State Tested Nursing Assistant class is a CCP course that is offered through the local college, Lakeland College. The students get hands-on experience learning and exploring the nursing profession. Perry partnered with an alumnus who owns local nursing homes. He allows the class to use his surplus equipment like beds, shower chairs, nightstands, etc. As we walked through the halls with Rita Soeder, Career Exploration Specialist, Kathy Chrzan, the STNA teacher from Lakeland Community College who teaches the class at Perry High School, ran up to us excited to share the news! They were given another patient bed for their classroom! We even saw it being wheeled in later that day.

As we took a break for lunch… 

four students ate with us and explained their previous plans, current goals, and their insight. One student explained her aspirations of becoming a fire medic, but how that quickly changed once she began ride time at their local fire department and felt that it wasn’t for her. She is now on track to become a nurse. Another student has successfully completed her STNA certification at Perry High School and is now unsure of whether it’s the right career for her. She is currently an intern for their elementary school and is interested in teaching. Another student has shadowed surgeons and doctors and plans to go to college to become a Physician’s Assistant. 

The students expressed the deep appreciation they feel for getting to learn not only what careers might interest them, but more importantly which turned out to NOT be right for them. They felt lucky they hadn’t spent thousands of dollars and multiple years earning degrees or certifications to end up in a field they no longer aspired to be in. Tricia and I felt their genuine gratitude for being able to spend these years exploring new pathways they had never considered before.

Next on our tour was the Perry High School house. 

Just when we thought we had seen it all, we pulled into Perry High School’s house. This is the second home the school district purchased, after selling their first flip. They offer their high schoolers a home renovation class where students get to spend the class period learning from local experts and practicing their skills. The home has become a staple in Perry, with many alumni tradesmen offering to teach students new skills. It’s run like a typical job site. The students will come in and get their tool belts and hard hats, they clock in and get to work. With many students having taken the class multiple times, naturally, the older high schoolers grow into leadership roles, supporting the freshmen and sophomores as they learn the ropes. 

Mr. Zusy, the home renovations teacher, walked us through and pointed out all of the awesome improvements they have made so far. From gutting the kitchen to running electrical and fixing up the basement, this unique opportunity exposes students to high-paying trade careers and gives them helpful skills for when they become homeowners.

Perry’s programs truly encompass the strong networking, partnerships, sustainability, and passion that most schools dream of in their career exploration classes. We are thankful to them for allowing us to check it out, and are so proud of working with them for over the last few years. From the EOEC, Remote EdX, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants to the many events of ours they have participated in, we can’t wait to continue working with them and see what great projects they have in store. 

*Photos gathered from our visit, Perry’s website, and Perry High School’s Facebook page.

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