Shelton High School looks to better prepare students for working world

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Left to right: Gene LaPorta, Patricia Tarasovic, Sue Coyle, Sylvia Rodriguez and Mary Beth White were five of 10 community members gathered to take part in the first forum at Shelton High School. –Aaron Berkowitz photo

As the world continues to evolve the work towards creating an adaptive education system is a must have and an ongoing process, according to Shelton High School’s Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith.

 

In order to assure the students of Shelton High School are as prepared as possible for college and the careers they’re pursuing, Dr. Smith called upon a group of community leaders for a forum designed to create a plan to help the school achieve this goal in years to come.

 

“We as a public high school have to take a look at ourselves and think, are we meeting the needs of our students to make sure they are ready for college and career ready and what can we do to continue to help them progress.”

Dr. Smith said the school will hold forums in the future targeting professionals in specific fields including journalism/media,social services, science/technology/engineering, arts and mathematics. This first forum at the high school focused on getting business’ input.

 

In the midst of the discussion, there was an observation of skills and habits that students entering college or the workforce should possess or break in order to perform to the best of their ability. Among those desired skills discussed and desired by employers were communication, time management, and dependability.

 

State Rep. Jason Perillo said in his line of work the importance of communication is vital and he would like to see schools ridding students of their sense of entitlement in order to teach students about the hard work it takes to be successful in any career path they choose.

 

Former Platt Tech Principal Gene LaPorta is now the Industrial Technology Outreach Coordinator at HCC Advanced Manufacturing and said he believes students would gain these skills from experience in the workplace earlier on.

 

“We need more field trips,” said LaPorta.

 

He explained that from his experience, when students from Shelton High visited his department at Housatonic Community College they left inquiring about what they had just seen firsthand. LaPorta suggested students take part in more internships and job shadowing as well because it serves as a primary resource of them learning what is expected of them when they begin their careers.

 

Dr. Smith said SHS is currently one of a select group of high schools that require students to complete hours of community service in order to graduate. Students are obligated to complete a minimum of 10 hours per year, but she explained some end up doing more.

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Shelton High School Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith. — Aaron Berkowitz photo

She added that she feels high schools currently do not prepare students for the real world.

 

“We need to think outside of the box,” said Dr. Smith while asking the community leaders what courses they felt need to be taught in high school.

 

Potential courses suggested for the school’s future curriculum included budget management, public speaking, and how to effectively build a network.

 

Dr. Smith explained that her goal is to move away from being so “test driven” and focus on partnering with more local business/nonprofits to get students doing more hands on work and out of the classroom. She explained that as much as she would like to see instant changes made, she knows it doesn’t work that way.

 

“You don’t decide you’re going to change something and then just change it the following year, some of these things could be implemented within two, three, or five years,” said Dr. Smith.

 

After the forums are concluded the process will come to a halt as the school will prepare to analyze the data and responses in them for any trends or important changes they feel should be implemented.

 

“The end result is where do we go from here. What maximum of 10 things need to be changed or improved in order for students to be better prepared,” said Dr. Smith. “By mid next year the data should be all together and we will enter the decision process of what needs to be changed.”

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