Over 1,100 Rockford Public Schools’ 11th-grade students participated in job shadows during the last school year. This is the largest number of students to experience job shadows since the beginning of the College & Career Academies of Rockford began in 2013.
Rather than trying to connect with employers on an ad-hoc basis, the work-based learning team worked with four high schools to coordinate weeks by Academy theme. The team chose four weeks, one in January, one in March, one in April, and one in May, with each week focused on a designated an industry theme.
In January, all juniors in the Production Academy across all four traditional high schools were invited to visit employers connected to industries such as construction, manufacturing, aerospace engineering, trucking, civil engineering, auto repair, and more. Business Academy juniors went to marketing/graphic design agencies, IT companies, a tattoo parlor, the tourism bureau, Amazon, and more. Juniors in the Health Academy visited hospitals, clinics, rehab facilities, dental offices, counseling services, and chiropractic offices. Juniors in the Service Academy experienced job shadows at early learning centers, museums, the state’s attorney’s office, police and fire departments, the county courthouse, restaurants, and hoteliers.
Focusing on one Academy theme per week allowed coordination with employers, school faculty and staff, and students to be streamlined over years past.
Students were out all day each day of their designated Academy week; schools knew what to expect in advance of students being out of the classroom, and employers knew exactly which week of the year they should focus their efforts.
One site host said, “I am so happy to be able to serve the community in this capacity. The students may not fully recognize the value, but they will in the future. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the RPS community!”
While one student said, “I enjoyed this a lot and will be applying [for a position with this company] in the future. I learned that everyone works together, so all the pressure isn’t going to be on just you. I need to prepare for classes in math and critical thinking. I would 100% recommend.”