BHS students exploring careers

Courtesy photo: Tarin Priest, an intern in Megan Jaquet’s Child Development and Parenting class, prepares a lesson for students on the infant simulator.

BROOKINGS – The age-old question “What are you going to do after high school?” is one that looms over many high school seniors. It’s a life-changing decision that is not easy to make. 

A change in South Dakota graduation requirements allows students more flexibility in their high school preparation and puts focus on the importance of opportunities to explore career options.

With the rising cost of post-secondary education, being able to experience different career areas before committing to one program of study is a smart choice. Education today is focused on career preparation, whether that includes a college degree, an associate’s degree, a work-training program or the military. 

For many students, a college degree will still be the next step; putting career preparation first gives students the opportunity to try that career out before making the final decision of what post-secondary educational path is best for them.

The Career and Technical Education programs at Brookings High School offer foundational courses, career pathway courses, and real-life experiences to help students explore areas of interest in 14 of the 16 Career Cluster areas.

The 16 Career Clusters recognized by the South Dakota Department of Education are:

• Agriculture, food and natural resources

• Architecture and construction

• Arts, audio/video technology and communications

• Business management and administration

• Education and training

• Finance

• Government and public administration

• Health science

• Hospitality and tourism

• Human services

• Information technology

• Law, public safety and security

• Manufacturing

• Marketing

• Science, technology, engineering and mathematics

• Transportation, distribution and logistics

More information on them can be found at https://doe.sd.gov/cte/careerclusters.aspx.

Opportunities begin in the classroom and lead to internships with area businesses. This career-focused education, teamed with strong academics, gives students an advantage in moving on to the next level in preparing for their careers.

This year over 60 students have taken advantage of the internship program and have explored multiple careers covering nine of the career cluster areas.  

Teaching as a profession

One of the 14 career clusters offered at the Brookings High School is Education and Training. A new course offering in this cluster this fall was Teaching as a Profession, a classroom and field-based course that provides students with principles of effective teaching practices as well as a background in child and adolescent development.

Throughout the semester, students had the opportunity to learn what to expect from a career in education, observe different classroom environments, and practice teaching techniques in classroom simulations.

As part of their exploration the students attended the Educators Rising Conference in October for future teachers. They had the opportunity to learn more about their chosen profession from current teachers and interacted with high school students from across the state also exploring a career in education.

Education and Training pathway instructor Megan Jaquet was excited students had the opportunity to attend the event. 

“Having the chance to talk to other students who will be going into the same profession gives them a head start on building a professional network, and that is invaluable in any profession and definitely in teaching,” Jaquet said.

Gus Miller, a member of the Teaching as a Profession class, felt taking the class helped him in his goal to become a teacher.   

“It was good to see that all kids have a different learning style and how important it is to adapt your teaching so they all have the chance to learn,” Miller said.

This semester students are putting skills learned in the classroom to work in educational internships. Their chosen areas range from preschool through high school and to focuses on math, history, music, family and consumer sciences, technology, special education and working with English Language Learners.

Four students this fall and 15 this spring are experiencing teaching from the other side of the desk in classroom settings, working with mentor teachers who provide them with an insight into their chosen profession.

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