Students at Birch Equipment

Through a community partnership with Junior Achievement of Washington, Options High School students toured Birch Equipment and Alcoa to learn more about these companies and the employee experience.

The connection with Options High School was made by Ashley DeLatour from FuturesNW when she introduced Options staff Joe Wooding to Roxanne McCloud with Junior Achievement of Washington. DeLatour networks with local resources to promote school-to-career pathways and McCloud has been collaborating with YES Whatcom to connect high school graduates with local employers. Junior Achievement programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers and provide relevant, hands-on experiences in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship

“The staff at Options High School is extremely supportive of helping and introducing the students to all pathways,” McCloud said. “And the Junior Achievement job shadow program is designed to help students learn about the skills needed in demanding, ever-changing workplaces by visiting professional work environments.”

McCloud coordinates with employers to provide opportunities for students to meet with management, tour facilities and interact with workers from various fields within the organization. Wooding said these job shadow opportunities have helped inspire students to explore the possibilities after high school.

“Exposure to workers from various fields within the organization expands the realm of possibility,” Wooding said. “Students discovered these organizations invest in human capital by helping employees cultivate different capacities.”

So far students have visited both Birch Equipment and Alcoa with additional opportunities planned for the spring. Junior Achievement aims to provide the knowledge and skills that will help students set personal goals, seek out important information, and be successful. McCloud explained that the hope of the job shadow program is to connect classroom lessons with real-life experiences.

“We are dedicated to giving students the knowledge and skills they need to own their own economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices,” McCloud said. “Our goal is to engage students during school and after-school in Junior Achievement programs that are relevant and interesting, which means students have fun while learning about various pathways and career choices.”

Beyond the job shadow opportunities, Junior Achievement provides a variety of programming for students in kindergarten through high school. Starting in January, Junior Achievement will have classes at Geneva and Lowell elementary schools and will also provide personal finance classes in some of the GRADs classrooms at Options and Sehome high schools.

Although the job shadow program is new at Options, Wooding and Options teacher Jami Aeschliman hope that these experiences can be scaled up to serve the entire school and other schools throughout the district.


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