Grove Elementary School in Federal Way
Washington says students respond well to visuals of different career and college pathways that she, teachers and other staff members post. One activity that proved to be a big hit among grade students last year—which will be repeated this year—was staff members sporting college gear like t-shirts and hats from their respective colleges. This serves as a conversation starter to get students asking questions about their teachers’ college experiences and think about their own futures.
“I think staff are making more of an effort on a conscious level to have conversations regarding careers and pathways whereas if we’re not thinking about it for that week they might not take ownership of those teachable moments when the questions come up,” Washington said.
To help students broaden their knowledge of the variety of occupations that stem from certain interests, staff at Lake Grove Elementary decorated the school walls with posters downloaded from the DiscoverU website. Students might be familiar with occupations such as doctors and nurses, but the world of medicine has room for so many more.
“A lot of the times with students it’s all about exposure,” Washington said. “Because up until that point, the only jobs that they know about are jobs that their family members would have or the people they come in contact with. And there’s a whole world out there of careers and jobs and interests that they wouldn’t know unless somebody shares information.”
Washington said that if students at Lake Grove Elementary decide to go and get into college, most of them will be first generation college students. DiscoverU activities help ensure that the conversation about life after high school—what the Federal Way School District calls the “13th year plan” happens. These conversations include all post-high school options, four- or two-year college, apprenticeships, the military and more.
It’s also important to get students to understand that the journey to the right career and college pathway is not always linear, which is why Washington and her colleagues are dedicating a day in DiscoverU week to let students ask their teachers: “If you were not teaching, what other cool jobs or careers would you want to have?”
Visuals are the number one strategy at Lake Grove Elementary School to help their students start conversations and begin to imagine their futures. During DiscoverU week, students will watch informational videos and posing in different college gear at this year’s themed photo booth. The point is to transfer student’s interests and strengths into a future career pathway.
“That’s what we try to share with all our students—all of your strengths and interests have jobs and occupations. We just have to find how they all connect,” Washington said.