MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

May 12, 2014

Portfolios’ power: Career program helps graduating seniors

Four years of assembling career portfolios have helped Fort Gibson seniors look beyond this month’s graduation.

“This class has one student going to Johns Hopkins University, one going to Carnegie Mellon University, one going to an arts institute,” said FGHS College and Career Adviser Gayle Piester.

She said more students are going to major out-of-state universities this year.

Piester credited this focus to a career investigation program that began when the students were freshmen.

Starting in 2010, the students had to put together a computer portfolio to help them learn about careers that interested them.

At the time, Superintendent Derald Glover said students had not seen a connection between school and their careers.

“They had to investigate career paths,” Piester said. “A lot have worked hard. They had to do internships and apprenticeships.”

Each year, students built on their path.

They were to learn career and interviewing techniques, visit with workers and professionals in their field of interest, then have a job interview by a professional in their chosen field.

“The portfolio definitely helped me see what careers are out there; some of them I didn’t even know existed,” said senior Erin Wilcox. “There are certain things you do each year. The junior year is when you do job shadowing.”

Wilcox said she shadowed a family friend who was a computer architect — someone who creates and designs computer structure.

“I want to be a computer architect or develop computer software,” Wilcox said.

She plans to major in computer science at the University of Tulsa, as part of the Honors College.

Myles Wood plans to major in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“I’m interested in the behavioral aspects of neuroscience,” Wood said, adding that he wants to do research into Alzheimer’s disease.

He said the career portfolio “helps you get a handle on what you need.”

Sheldon Smith, who plans to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said the career portfolio “opened my eyes to options.”

“It made me more open to going out of state,” Smith said.

Even with progress shown in this year’s class, Glover called the program “a work in progress.”

“We want students to be more aware of careers out there,” Glover said. “We need to listen to kids and try to make education relevant to them.”

The superintendent said he spent the past year seeing what students need.

“I actually meet with the seniors in groups of 10 for lunch,” Glover said. “I’ve been doing it for three years. They’re very candid about what they want.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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