Students participate in Career Connections program

Linden Agri Acme Students

Career Connections is a leading-edge, community based model of education allowing students to design their own unique futures. Intentionally using this model to craft meaningful career development opportunities is helping to challenge and deepen student understandings of classroom theory. Through our model, student engagement soars and students achieve higher results accordingly. While forging personalized pathways, our students are excited about where their education is taking them. And so are we!

Students at Dr. Elliott School are very impressed by the wide range of innovative, flexible programming opportunities available in their local communities of Acme and Linden, Alberta. During their time in Junior High, students become increasingly self-aware and confident in their distinct passions, talents, and aspirations. Participating in Career Exploration activities, through partnerships with local businesses and organizations, means that students develop many competencies in an authentic, hands-on way.

One example of this is the Grade Nine Employability Skills Competition, which all Grade Nine Students are required to participate in. Students prepare a cover letter and resume for an individual interview with one of six local Human Resource Specialists. The top candidate from each of the initial groupings goes on to compete to be the overall winner in a panel interview. This year, the companies that provided HR Specialists to assist with this competition included Alberta Proud Real Estate, ATB Financial, CBI Manufacturing, Linden Agri-Centre, OK Tire, and Sunterra Farms.

Students enjoyed the applied experience gained during the Employability Competition and appreciated seeing the relevancy of what they are learning in a broader context. “It was fun. I liked it because I have a better understanding of what I will face the next time I have an interview. I now have an idea of what they’re going to ask me the next time I go,” said Josh Martin about his community interview experience.

Dave Price, of Sunterra Farms, also sees tremendous value in the practical aspect of Career Connections stating, “One of the things that I think Career Connections does is move beyond the virtual world to one of reality. It provides the opportunity for students to see how much fun and how rewarding it can be to grow or make things or to help someone with their own hands, rather than living and working in a world just typing on keys.”

Currently, students are reflecting on a Career Exploration day during which they connected with over 30 businesses and organizations representing a wide array of careers. The day was divided into the five Career Clusters that align with Alberta’s Career and Technology Program of Studies. These five clusters are: Health, Recreation, and Human Services; Natural Resources; Business, Innovation, and Technology; Trades, Manufacturing, and Transportation; and Media, Design, and Communications. During the day, all five clusters included a range of careers stemming from various post-secondary pathways including professional organizations, trade schools, technical schools, colleges, and universities.

“I had no idea it takes over seven years to become a lawyer!” exclaimed Dexter Palapay after sitting down to interview lawyer Norm Tainsh, of Norman L Tainsh, Professional Corporation. In addition to speaking with Mr. Tainsh, students discovered many other ways to be involved in legal studies, from local law enforcement, to careers in book keeping within his firm. When asked what value he sees in events such as the Career Exploration Day, Tainsh stated, “Our law firm values its relationship with young students starting to plan their careers. It is with pleasure that we participate in their career days and hope our input is helpful to them in making career choices.”

Students were amazed by the diversity and availability of challenging, rewarding, and sustainable careers in their local community. “There are so many careers that I had no idea existed and are really interesting. This really opened up my views about the future,” said Grade Nine student Colleen Klassen. This was exactly the response that Ken Toews, Sales Manager and Owner of Linden Agri-Centre was hoping to receive. “Linden Agri-Centre finds value in sharing their passion for agriculture to students,” said Toews, “We hope students will see a wide variety of jobs and careers that are available in the agriculture sector through their experience at Linden Agri-Centre.”

Bruce Shultz, President and CEO of Huron Resources Corp agreed, “Huron Resources is dedicated to community involvement and youth outreach programming. We support engagement with educators and students interested in career opportunities within the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We strive to educate and inform our local communities on the fascinating world of energy.”

“It was an honour to be asked to participate in Career Exploration Day,” said Peter Ratzlaff, Operations Manager with Huron Resources Corp. “[We] are actively working in the area, and as a business we also want to be active participants in the community. That is why we hire local contractors to work for us, as well as participate in community events such as Career Exploration Day. As a graduate of Dr. Elliott School who has found a career within the Oil and Gas Industry, I am thankful for the education I received at Dr. Elliott School and the great opportunities it has provided.”

According to Principal Kurt Ratzlaff, getting the support of local businesses and organizations is a relatively seamless process because community partners view their involvement in the program as mutually beneficial. “Partnerships between the school and our community are integral to the educational experience that we offer. Students discover pathways that reflect their unique interests and abilities. Likewise, companies benefit from shaping the employability skills of the next generation of workers and community leaders. Students in the Tri-Campus Schools: Acme, Carbon, and Dr. Elliott in Linden, are better prepared to make the most of their high school program because they enter into it well informed about the possibilities and have a clearer idea of where they want their education to take them.”

Murray Regehr, President of CBI Manufacturing, agrees, “The partnership between Dr. Elliott, Acme High, and CBI Manufacturing has been a very valuable one. Over the years many students from our local schools have gone through the RAP program and become tradesmen and leaders in our business and community. We are fortunate to have the leadership at the school that also sees this benefit.”

In Career Connections, students gain a competitive advantage in a growing and globalized labour force while also developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Because our students are strongly encouraged to actively seek out and embark on unique learning opportunities in their local context, they see unlimited possibilities for learning in the world around them.

Darin Wiebe appreciates the value-added nature of using this model of education. Dr. Elliott School approached Wiebe to be a partner last spring after several students applied for summer employment with his company.

“We at Extreme Concrete have a passion to help young students prepare for their future. By being able to contribute and be involved with the Career Days we feel we can help students to begin to think about their future, whether it is with our company or where ever life may take them. For Extreme Concrete we prefer to hire local people as much as we can so it also helps us get acquainted with upcoming graduates and possible summer students.”

With a deeply rooted history of innovation and excellence, strong community partnerships foster the development of valuable transferable skills. Our students are empowered with the mind-sets and competencies needed to design their own pathways to the future. And it looks bright!