This is a continuing series of stories in which we are highlighting the winning Career Readiness Mini-Grant projects.

The Lewisburg Area School District is a traditional yet contemporary district in rural Pennsylvania comprised of five schools. For their career readiness mini-grant project, the district focused on 165 8th grade students, 35 middle school educators, 18 SUN Area Technical Institute (ATI) instructors, and over 300 parents and guardians.

Students completed a career interest survey through Career Cruising which guided them in choosing three hands-on workshops at SUN ATI to help inform them of careers in the region. “This will open more options for them as they make choices about what their career path will be in high school as they start to set themselves up for grades 9-12 with electives and allows them to be ready for these opportunities,” said Brenda Zack, Career Counselor for the Lewisburg Area School District.

Previously, Lewisburg Area School District had an introductory program where students went to the technical school and experienced a short visit that included a walking tour and 1-2-minute presentations about each program offered. Now, because of the career-readiness mini-grant, students receive more hands-on exposure since the program allows them to see more career clusters in action. Through the pre- and post-surveys, students, and parents increased their knowledge of the programs provided at SUN ATI, employment opportunities in the area, and career clusters.

Jennifer Hain, Administrative Director of SUN ATI, noted, “Even the students who do not choose SUN ATI will have a better understanding of technical jobs and skills.” The combination of assessment and matching students’ experiences to their interest led to a more customized and successful program. One parent shared, “I’m very happy to see a tight working relationship between the school district and the local vo-tech program to provide these opportunities.” Another explained, “I felt this was a good opportunity for students who benefit from hands-on learning to know that this option is there for them to be able to focus on a particular job interest.”

In the future, the Lewisburg Area School District hopes to see these hands-on experiences give students not just a taste of their careers, but actually inform their career decision process.