The Sedalia School District 200 took steps at their board meeting Monday night to further help students decide their career paths after hearing a report on the Sedalia FIT (Forty-hour Internship Try-out) Program for juniors and seniors in the district.
Under the program, students would work a 40-hour workweek as an intern during their junior and senior years with a local business to see if the career path the student has expressed in interest in is the right choice for them and is one they could develop into a potential career.
“We first became aware of the program because of an article in the Democrat last year, S-C principal Wade Norton said prior to the board meeting. “I spoke to Mr. Pollitt about it and once we heard more about the program from Ed (Watkins) and Betty (Hopkins) we were in hook, line and sinker.”
Watkins developed the concept for the program in the early ‘80s at the Harris Labs in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Watkins told the board that business, education, and civic leaders in Sedalia were building the first comprehensive internship driven career-planning program for high school students prior to their graduation.
“We plan to start the program later this spring with 30 students,” Norton said. “After we see how that goes we have plans to go across the board with it.”
Norton said Watkins and Hopkins would be giving all seniors an interest inventory, which would be used in part to determine placement in the internship program.
“We think it is a great program,” Norton said. “It gives students the opportunity to look at it (their future career) and live it as well.
“We are fortunate that we have a community that is willing to work with the schools and the students to give them the opportunity to explore their future career choices,” Norton added.
Several members of the FIT board of directors came with Watkins to the board meeting to discuss the program.
Dr. Doug Kiburz, FIT board member spoke on some of the many advantages the program offers.
“It allows the students to have the opportunity to practice what has been learned in the classroom,” Kiburz said. “It also allows individuals to see first-hand what it takes to succeed in a profession while giving them knowledge of the organization of the field they have chosen.
Jorge Guevara, who earlier in the evening was elected chairman of the directors, spoke of his belief in the program.
Guevara accepted an intern in the program earlier this year through Sacred Heart told the school board of the benefits to the program.
“The importance of the Sedalia Fit Program is that it places students where they express an interest and where they seem to belong after their assessment and interviews.” Guevara said. “I believe the program is filling the gap between the reality of work and the schools.”
The board also heard a report from Norton about the ACT Test preparation that the District is implementing.
“Prior to last year it was voluntary if a student took the ACT test,” Norton said. “Last year DESE, as a part of their MSIP review, required that all juniors across the state take the test.
“That really changed what we felt we needed to do as a district to help our students become even better prepared for the test,” Norton added. “The ACT truly is one assessment that can change a student’s life because in the Midwest it is a gateway to college entrance.”
Norton said one of the keys to the districts approach was the Eight Minute Wednesday Workout.
Given each Wednesday morning to the freshmen students in their morning seminar period, the practice tests are designed to replicate an ACT Test on a smaller scale.
“We approach this as an actual ACT test, the students aren’t permitted to talk or ask questions and at two minutes they are given a warning prompt so they know that they have to start marking answers because there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT.
“Something as simple as knowing that they should answer every question, even if they guess is something we cover in our tip of the week,” Norton added. “We also go over the answers with the students and then tell them to talk to a core teacher if they have specific questions about any of the answers they may have missed.”
Those conversations are one of the examples of increased teacher and student engagement that Norton added will raise the student success level on the test.
Another part of the program began at the beginning of the second semester when all juniors took a four-hour practice ACT Test.
After scoring the test, Smith-Cotton administrators and the ACT Team made the decision that all juniors would take two ACT workshops this spring prior to the actual test date to help them prepare for the April test date.
“I want to commend all of the staff who are working on this program,” Superintendent of Schools Brad Pollitt said. “They are just one more example of so many of our staff who work before and after school, every day with no compensation for the extra time they put in to help our students.
They do this on a continual basis because they truly want to help the students every day to succeed,”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484