Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 3, 2008
Counsellors guide students towards realizing dreams
Treating each pupil as an individual ensures the career path fits
By LASHA MORNINGSTAR
“We want them to be passionate when they go to work.”
- Deborah Meraw
With more than 40,000 different careers, high school students can become overwhelmed by the choices.
Grade 10’s at St. Joes, equipped with guided questionnaires, attend a post secondary fair of more than 50 booths, including everyone from the University of Alberta, to Marvel College, to apprenticeship boards, to the city police.
Career speakers — such as RCMP, nurse, judge — are brought in each month. St. Joes also arms the students with a first aid/CPR certified course “to keep them safe in the workplace because most of the youngsters have part-time jobs,” says Meraw.
The pupils also create their own binder portfolio, including a resume, competencies, and a collection of best works, which is critiqued and validated by their teachers.
“You can’t make a decision if you don’t know who you are,” says Meraw.
Grade 11 students’ career internship program has them go through a True Colours Assessment to discover their values, characteristics, dreams, passions.’
“How did you know who I was,” said one tear-filled student to Meraw.
They take reading materials for follow up and then go back for a follow up interview to find out where their voyage of discovery has led them and then chart their course on how to get there.
“We want them to be passionate when they go to work,” says Meraw. “It is their decision not ours.”
They are also paired with a mentor so they can discover the reality versus the image of the work.
“You have to engage the students,” says Meraw. “A checklist just doesn’t do it.”
With the students going into today’s work world where they change jobs six or seven times or more. “We have to prepare them – make them confident, self aware,” says Meraw.
Part of this preparation includes an evening of students and parents with a career development consultant who leaves them with a common ground to start a dialogue.
“Our goal,” says Meraw “is to help the child realize their dreams.”
Gary Rehman, chaplain and counsellor at Louis St. Laurent says students at his school are “ pretty motivated and want to go to university.
But a strong economy can throw a wrench into things and Rehman tells of talking with “teachers in Northern Alberta who have kids leaving at Grade 10 and 11 to go work in the oil fields and often make more money than the teachers.”
Rehman says though for the most part, his students come from “professional parents so the kids know the professional life,” and want it too.
Some students though are “ unsure and sometimes it is daunting,” says the counsellor.
If they want to take a year off, Rehman wants to know their plan for that year.
Pick up courses. Dig ditches for the LRT – the lower level of engineering – to see if that is really the course they want to go. Maybe look at something at Grant MacEwan or NAIT.
Asked what his biggest worry is for the undecided student, Rehamn’s answer is immediate.
“Kids not getting their questions answered. They rely on second hand information from other students instead of going to a counsellor.”
Like St. Laurent, most Archbishop MacDonald students are committed to the post secondary route, says counsellor Lorraine Spenraph.
“If they are really not sure, they come here and go through a whole process of discovering their interests, get a full picture of their personality and then look at the options of places they can go to look at.”
For the pupils who want to get out into the workforce “as quick as I can.” Spenraph helps them look at the one or two year programs at NAIT and Grant MacEwan. Some really do not know what they want to do and tell Spenrath they “don’t want to spend $8,000 to $10,000 of their parents or their money and find out that’s not what they want to do.”
So they talk about options such as working and taking open studies courses at night to try out different areas of study.
“They always leave with a plan,” says Spenrath.
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