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Oak Hill implements career readiness program

BY Abigail Roberts - ctreport@indy.rr.com

In September, Oak Hill High School began its first full term of NAVIANCE, a career readiness platform for grades 9-12.

“As educators, we were in a period up until the last two to three years where our mindset was, let’s help students get to college,” said Guidance Counselor Roger Spaulding. “Now we’re changing our mindset from college college college, to what is best for our students.”

Purchased with money from the recent Lilly Grant for Comprehensive Counseling, NAVIANCE provides 17 30-minute lessons per grade level, per year. Lilly funds will cover program costs for the next three and a half years.

The program, when used properly, can expose students to many more career paths and college opportunities than Oak Hill staff could on their own.

As well as providing information on thousands of possible career choices, NAVIANCE hits three goals, outlining for students: who I am, what do I want to be and how will I get there?

NAVIANCE’s impact is far-reaching. It prompts students to ask career and identity questions, prepare for college and scholarship applications and even write a resume. Its curriculum aligns with 21st-century skills and NAVIANCE also provides a way for Oak Hill to track student’s data.

Oak Hill has seen three immediate effects of NAVIANCE.

“It helps students have a plan,” said Shawn Means, Oak Hill High School principal. “It develops options for non-college bound students and it reduces the number of graduates still trying to find out what they want to do. Overall, it helps us meet the state-mandated Graduation Pathways. It became a resource we weren’t aware it would be.”

Lessons cover a broad range of relevant topics such as “Mastering homework” for freshmen, “Enhancing my resume,” for sophomores, “Paying for college,” for juniors and “What is my brand,” for seniors.

Oak Hill has divided each grade level into five groups, assigning two teachers to each cohort. These teachers facilitate discussions and present and enhance video lessons.

Teachers will stay with their cohort all four years so that by the end, all teachers will be familiar with the full curriculum.

NAVIANCE also provides students with online assessments they can take throughout their four years, such as StrengthsFinder, personality profile, career interest profile and a learning style inventory.

“With the learning styles inventory, the results will be available to every teacher in the building,” said Counselor Todd Law. “That way as students go from class to class, teachers can know how to work best with each student’s specific learning style.”

A place where students can find a plethora of answers to practical questions, NAVIANCE is currently implemented in 28 schools across Indiana.

Laurie Goff has been instrumental in Oak Hill High School’s NAVIANCE implementation. In the spring of 2018, Goff ran a test group of 45 students from grades 9-12.

“The biggest thing I saw as a benefit to the kids was it opened up new possibilities to them,” Goff said. “It was pretty traditional when we asked students what they wanted to do, they would answer doctor, lawyer, teacher. (NAVIANCE) helped them see there are more options.”

Oak Hill has based much of its NAVIANCE strategy off Decatur Township’s use of NAVIANCE. Counselors and teachers from Oak Hill have visited Decatur twice, and two representatives from Decatur’s NAVIANCE program have visited to provide training sessions for Oak Hill teachers and staff.

“It was very enlightening to talk to and observe their staff and students and see the benefits of the program firsthand,” said math teacher Stephanie Strange.

Oak Hill’s goal is to someday be able to set aside 30 minutes a day for NAVIANCE and offer it as a graded, for-credit class. However, this would necessitate an additional 163 lessons to cover the 180-day school year.

“NAVIANCE will provide a tremendous advantage for our kids,” Law said. “... We are really trying to develop a total high school experience.”

“One of my favorite aspects of being a secondary teacher is watching my students grow and mature,” Strange said. “I believe that NAVIANCE will enable more students to feel confident in their choices and opportunities post-high school.”