Richford connecting classrooms to careers

Workplace learning becomes goal for school

Elaine Ezerins

By Elaine Ezerins

Staff Writer

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RICHFORD — Richford Junior Senior High School (RJSHS) received a $12,750 grant for this school year to support the creation of a curriculum that focuses on connecting classroom learning to careers.

With this career advisory grant, RJSHS aims to build on the work it has already done with creating personalized learning plans for students, providing work-based learning opportunities and improving students’ supports.

“This grant represents the continuation of a lot of initiatives that are currently in our building,” said Laura Frangipane, a Humanities teacher at RJSHS, who wrote the grant.

RJSHS has already implemented Act 77, the Flexible Pathways Initiative by having students create personalized learning plans, according to Frangipane.

“We believe that personalizing learning will create more engagement and persistence,” she said. “Students engage in learning when it feels authentic.”

She said the same student who proclaims English class to be completely useless might excel in her forestry class. The student will need to write professionally in the sugaring industry, but hearing this ad nauseam in English class does not help her make the connection.

“What can we do, as educators, to help students transfer strengths into a new or uninteresting subject?” asked Frangipane. “To us, this student’s success in forestry class results from believing the learning is relevant. This can be the power of connecting all classrooms to careers.”

RJSHS principal Beth O’Brien said it’s important for students to be a leader of their own learning.

“In a rural area like Richford, we wonder if most students gravitate only toward familiar and local careers, like the student in the example above,” Frangipane continued. “Creating a robust curriculum that focuses on career pathways will open the future for our students, as well as help retain students who struggle to stay engaged in school.”

Frangipane said the grant will build on this work by emphasizing the career and future plans component of the personalized learning plans and allowing students to have work-based learning experiences, such as job shadows, internships, and field trips, while they are in high school.

O’Brien said it offers students a chance to explore different areas of interest and enlighten them on various career opportunities that they might not be exposed to in Northern Vermont.

Frangipane said the grant will allow the school to support teachers and students in developing learning-level examples demonstrating a connection between classroom and career, develop a more robust connection between school and employers, and expand work-based learning opportunities for students among other things.

Frangipane said businesses and community organizations are vital for the school’s success in this work.

“We want students to be connected to career fields and strengthen our local economy,” she said. “We want to make our classrooms a reflection of the real world. If anyone is interested in working with students and teachers at Richford to achieve these goals, please reach out to us through our guidance office.”