Every day in the United States, a reported 7,000 students drop out of high school. Many of them do so because they have no vision for the future, and it can be hard to stay motivated when you don’t know what you’re working toward. What’s more, Junior Achievement research has found that in order to really impact graduation rates, you have to reach students by the time they’re in middle school %ndash; meaning many of the programs that are designed to help these students simply begin too late.
Thanks to years of hard work by educators and other caring members of our community, Lincoln enjoys one of the lowest high school drop-out rates in the country. But at Junior Achievement of Lincoln, we believe that we can always do better %ndash; and that no student should ever drop out of school because they’ve given up hope of a better future.
Job shadowing has long been identified as one of the best ways to motivate students to work toward a career, so JA of Lincoln began a pilot program this year to give our students that motivation. We began by focusing on LPS high schools with lower graduation rates, and then, in an effort to reach students when it’s most effective, targeted the middle schools that feed into them. We partnered with the Community Learning Centers at North Star High School, Park Middle School (which feeds into Lincoln High School), and Dawes Middle School (which feeds into North Star), and three of Lincoln’s biggest employers (Nelnet, Union Bank, and State Farm), and the JA Job Shadow program was born.
Beginning in March, groups of students from each school began a nine-week after school program. They participated in career assessments, learned about job opportunities and work-readiness skills, and finally had the opportunity to visit our three corporate partners. They toured the businesses, met with employees in a wide range of departments, and had the chance to ask questions about their jobs.
By all accounts, our first go at this new program was a big success! The students had a great time, and most importantly they learned a lot %ndash; often about career options that they didn’t even realize existed. We’re working now on how we’ll grow and expand the program for next year, but for now we want to thank the students, teachers, and volunteers who helped make this pilot program work. We also owe a huge thank you to Nelnet, Union Bank, and State Farm for opening up their doors to our students and being so generous with their time. With their help, we’re confident that we helped guide some of Lincoln’s students down a better path for the future!
Details of the JA program can be found at http://www.ja.org/programs/programs_job_shadow.shtml