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By NANNETTE JOHNSTON
The adage is true. It does take a village to raise a child. And, the older the children get, the more people it takes.
We live in a wonderful community where there are people who graciously help our school district with their time, talent and treasure. The village lends a hand to its children so they can become the next generation’s leaders in making the village stronger and even more fruitful.
School districts across the state have put extensive focus on college and career readiness. Kentucky employers are telling schools that the graduates they receive in the workplace mustbe able to compete in the ever-changing global economy. The face of the American worker has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. We communicate with the other side of the world several times a day, businesses in Hardin County sell their wares around the world and computers and robots do the work that people sweated profusely over a generation ago.
Data indicates students are becoming more college and career ready each day. However, we look at more than just numbers in measuring student success. We must expose our studentsto people and experiences that will lead to great opportunitiesin the future. Remember our village scenario? We have to prepare the village’s next generation of leaders.
We’re starting muchearlier in helping our students plan and train for their career.It is a necessity that students use their middle school years to seriously start exploring career options. This is an emphasis so our students will becompetitive inour world’s marketplace.
Hardin County Schools is taking steps to assure our students and their future employers thatthey will be ready.
In recent weeks, Dale Brown, Western Kentucky University’s director of college and school relations visited with all our eighth-graders. He shared with them the expectations they will have in college and how they can start preparing today by fine tuning their study habits and taking challenging coursework. In January, we will meet with parents to share student survey results and high school and postsecondary planning information.
Later this week, eighth- and ninth-grade students will participate in our first Career Exploration Fairs. We will transport and eighth-graders to their feeder high schools and bring in freshman to attend sessions from some community partners in various career fields. The careers that will be showcased are several of the options our students will have available for training and certification in Hardin County Schools. Our students will use this time of exploration to select their career emphasis and high school coursework. Our students will have the opportunity to hear from staff andcommunity members who work in the following areas: healthcare, automotive technology, television production, information technology, industrial maintenance, business, culinary arts, agriculture, welding, engineering, manufacturing, robotics and college representatives.
In January, our sophomores and their parents will have a similar experience to learn about various opportunities that await them in postsecondary training and the workforce.
Our community — or our village, as we referred to it earlier — is more than willing to contribute to our students’ dreams of accomplishment. Our main goal is helping children succeed, one child at a time. Our district is extremely blessed to bepart of a community that embraces the same vision.
Nannette Johnston is superintendent of Hardin County Schools.