Ambitious work-based learning program available for KIBSD students

 

While it might initially seem like COVID has been a damper on education, some forward-thinking ideas are still being developed around the country. Here in Kodiak, Anthony White has been working to start a new program for the Kodiak Island Borough School District that would bring students hands-on opportunities at a local business or organization of their choice.

“But they’re getting– it’s like a glorified job shadow pretty much– longer in duration, really getting to know the organizational structure of that business,” White said.

“And then it moves on into internship opportunity, which is much longer, and includes much more hands on experience for the students. So, they’re assigned projects and tasks. They take on those projects and tasks as part of the business. And they really get to understand the ins and outs of the organization and how it functions.”

The plan is to pair students up with local businesses and reward students with credit for internships, externships, and job shadows based on the number of hours they accumulate. The aim is graduate students with an experience of the skills necessary to navigate the labor market in Kodiak and around the country.

“…the overall purpose of it is to provide students with practical and relevant career related learning experiences. So through that they’re developing an understanding of their abilities, their interests and educational career aspirations. They’re provided with opportunities that don’t currently exist within the high schools’ structure. So you’re out in the workforce applying those skills. It helps develop the student’s confidence, the student’s responsibility, maturity. And, and I think one of the biggest things, it enhances the partnership between the school and the community by serving the local needs of business and industry,” White said.

White admits that COVID has slowed down his plans for rollout of this work-based learning program, but he won’t let it stop him.

“Hey, look, I’m not gonna let a pandemic stop us from making learning opportunities for Students,” White said.

“However, it’s not easy. And really the big thing with the businesses that are willing to take students in this day and age is, we say, here are the safety protocols set by the district and what they have deemed necessary to keep students, staff and the community safe, right? Adhering to those protocols. Can the business adhere to those protocols? And is the business adhering to city and state guidelines and protocols for safety? And as long as we can ensure that, I think we’re good to go.”

For White, this program is more than another extracurricular for students to pursue. He sees it as a model program to radically impact student success.

“I think we learn best when we’re fully immersed in that learning experience. Right? It is one thing to watch video and learn something and then fill out a worksheet, multiple choice, and then you move on to the next thing. It is another to create your representation of learning, to create what you know. And I think this program is like the epitome of creation. You’re no longer in this hypothetical learning environment; you are in it, you are part of it. It is a fast-moving train, and you need to keep up with it, right? And you’ll make mistakes, you’ll mess up. And that’s fine because we all do and we learn from those mistakes, and we grow as people and we become better for ourselves and for our community.”

Businesses or organizations interested in partnering with White’s program can sign up at bit.ly/wblsis.

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