Dear RCS Families & Staff,
We are about to head off for our well-earned February break. We continue to be in economic, social, and educational recovery from the effects of the past two years. We need to return our focus on the mission at hand, preparing our students for employment, enrollment, or enlistment. How many of us can say that we knew exactly what we wanted to do at 13, 15, or 18 years old? There are many pathways to success and training is essential for all jobs. Training, however, can be delivered in many ways. As our school adapts to the needs of 2022 and beyond, our entire community needs to embrace the simple expectation that every one of our RCS graduates be prepared for employment, enrollment, or enlistment. Our students need to hear, see, and experience many diverse opportunities to help them discover their own path.
RCS community feedback has identified a number of skills that will best prepare our students for the complexities of the world beyond graduation. These included the 21st-century skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. Community stakeholders also clearly noted that collaboration, specifically volunteerism, was very important to the success of our American culture. Our children will only learn the importance of service if it is explicitly taught. In addition to volunteerism, workplace visitations, apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing, and guest speakers from the business community are an integral part of learning collaboration.
The RCS High School recently launched a “Career Café” in order to provide additional career-based opportunities to our students. This dynamic space is housed in our library and will be used for work-based learning opportunities such as mock interviews, guest speakers, maker space, public speaking, mini-classes in resume building, interview strategies, and professional communications. Students also learn valuable lessons by managing and serving within the Café itself. This coming March the Café will feature a career fair for our juniors and seniors with our largest local manufacturers that will include local partners TCI, Sabic, Owens Corning, and others.
Here is where RCS stands on delivering explicit instruction on skills centered around career development.
We have created Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Labs at both elementary schools and have repurposed staff to teach students how to engage in real-world, work-based problem-solving.
Our counseling staff pushes into classrooms in all buildings to engage students in interest inventories and job exploration.
We have expanded work-based learning opportunities which now includes about 5% of high school students.
We also have approximately 10% of RCS High School students enrolled in formal Career and Technical Education at BOCES.
What is missing are opportunities for all of our students to actively see the working world and gain access to job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships, or formal Career and Technical Education training. We have hired, retrained, or reassigned staff in order to attain these important opportunities for more RCS students. We will continue to seek experiences in multiple pathways in order for our students to be ready for the dynamically changing workplace and the world ahead of them.
Have a restful and rejuvenating February break with your families,
Brian Bailey, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools