Helping Students Soar Towards Their Future



Photo by Wes Battoclette

To help students begin thinking of and preparing for careers earlier, Sycamore Community Schools recently implemented a career readiness program that begins in the fifth grade. The Aviator Flight Plan helps students soar ahead by helping them make the connection between the classroom and their future at an earlier age. 

Early assessments helps students identify potential career interests early on. “Every one of our fifth grade students participates at this entry point,” explains Karen Naber, assistant superintendent. Students take a Career Cluster Inventory developed by OhioMeansJobs.com. “They rate more than 80 activities to help narrow down what career cluster most closely matches their likes and dislikes. A follow up Career Profile analyzes their answers and provide a list of careers best suited to each of them.”

In junior high, Achieveworks assesses each student’s learning style, intelligence and identifies student’s strengths. These results are layered with other results to further detail a student’s interests, work traits, and academic strengths.

“Our goal is that once they get to seventh and eighth grade, students begin to think about what types of classes they might need to take to pursue the kind of career their interests point them toward,” Naber says. “We are hoping that they have a broad idea of what they are good at or where their passions lie.”

Sycamore is also incorporating the Aviator Flight Plan into its program for at-risk students. Naber lists several markers they watch for that are indicative of at-risk behavior: six or more unexcused absences, more than one incident that results in being sent to the office for discipline and failing grades. “If we observe more than one of these occurring, we implement a student success plan prior to the end of the first semester,” Naber explains. “The formalization of the program is new; however, the support we provide to students is not.” Sycamore boasts a drop-out rate of less than one-half percent.

Students begin to use Naviance in eighth grade with small-group assistance from their counselor. This college and career readiness software partners with high schools and other K-12 institutions. Parents are a key part of the plan. They are introduced to Naviance along with their child to begin taking a more active role in exploring future plans. 

Once in high school, students have the opportunity to begin exploring their interests in one of Sycamore High School’s Learning Communities. “Our goal is to provide a filter for their passion so when they go through one of the learning communities they will have a much better idea of what they want to do with their life,” says Doug Mader, principal, Sycamore High School. 

Shadowing and internship opportunities with more than 40 local businesses provide invaluable experiences for students to further explore potential careers. Training is also provided to students by volunteer professionals on how to conduct themselves in a corporate environment. Dean of students Ashwin Corattiyil notes that the volunteers represent a wide variety of professions. “They do a great job helping the students prepare to be successful in a business environment,” he says. 

Sycamore High School is located at 7400 Cornell Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242. You can reach them at 513.686.1770 or visit their website at www.sycamoreschools.org.