Return to Headlines

McKean Students Pursue Work Based Learning Opportunities

McKean Students Pursue Work-Based Learning Opportunities

Students at Thomas McKean High School are preparing for careers and/or college by working in work-based learning (WBL) programs with employers and community partners. The expanding WBL program now includes off-campus business opportunities in nine out of ten career pathways.

“Goals of the WBL program include helping students gain workplace experience, developing strong soft skills needed to gain and keep a job, and developing leadership skills relevant to the workplace. Future programming will look to build soft skills needed for workplace success and include opportunities for students to learn more about creating jobs and becoming entrepreneurs,” said Bill Everett, Work Based Learning Specialist at McKean.

One of the key elements of successful WBL programs is industry partnerships. Both the school and partnering businesses share roles at each other’s facilities and events. At McKean, business partners are encouraged to provide in-classroom lessons and attend school events. In return, McKean students are placed in different jobs within the business.

One of the first working partnerships is with Mt. Cuba. One project will connect Audio Video/Radio students with Mt. Cuba’s marketing department. They will work together to create a “Know How to Go” video which will give visitors to Mt. Cuba a chance to see where to go and where to find key areas of the center prior to a visit. A second project will provide an opportunity for McKean students to visit the grounds and learn about the research and efforts related to plant science. The visit will serve as an introduction to careers in plant sciences, horticulture and arboriculture.

Students in the work-based learning program can apply to be student leaders prior to their junior year. After completing a job interview, students are selected based on committee feedback and recommendations. They are placed in a real workplace job within their career pathway. Senior leaders Leigh Ann Ingram and Lillian Frazier, both in Manufacturing and Engineering Technology help with the construction of outdoor furniture which is available for purchase by McKean staff as well as the public.

In their senior year students may apply for work-based Student Co-op, an off-campus industry work experience that allows students to work directly in their career pathway. McKean senior Kirsten Boyd currently earns co-op credit through the Early Childhood Teacher Academy pathway while working for the YMCA as a member of their aftercare team. “The Y gives me a jump start and hands-on experience,” said Kirsten.

In-school business opportunities offer products/services to staff, families and the public. Work-based student leaders assist their CTE teachers in managing in-school businesses. McKean woodworks handle furniture, wood and small wiring repairs while making outdoor furniture and wooden boats, the Highlander Café prepares breakfast Friday morning and lunch Wednesday- Friday and Next Gen Media works with video, audio and event production while McKean Auto Tech does vehicle inspection, maintenance and repairs. Services also available include graphic design for t-shirts, corsages and floral arrangements, farm fresh foods and a preschool for children 3-5.

McKean’s dual emphasis on career preparation and academics gives students opportunities to gain valuable experiences in their chosen field by working in state-of-the-art facilities and collaborating with community partners.