Valley View High School is utilizing their Career Readiness Mini-Grant to connect students to high priority STEM occupations earlier, more often, and more explicitly. Local STEM professionals will be invited to participate in assemblies, workshops, and class lectures. Furthermore, high school students will visit various industry sites to gain first-hand experience in high demand, regional STEM occupations.

Part of a larger, district-wide initiative to expose students to STEM careers, Valley View’s Career Readiness Mini-Grant project continues to be shaped by regional labor market information provided by their local workforce development board, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. Connections with Chamber leaders, the PA High Priority Occupation List, and Regional Workforce Employment Projections will guide the project and assist Valley View High School in identifying a variety of industry professionals to participate in the project.

“The data shows us where the jobs are, and there are viable, high paying, and rewarding STEM careers in our area. With Lockheed Martin close by and a growing oil and gas industry, our students do not need to go far for these careers,” states Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Michael Boccella.

Scientists, computer programmers, engineers, and mathematicians will be invited to interact with students in Valley View STEM classrooms early in the year. Additionally, Valley View High School will host at least one assembly with corresponding workshops to access a broader audience of students. Based on student interest documented in surveys, Valley View High School will then organize field trips to industry sites that support high priority occupations.

Boccella states, “A project like this has never been done before at Valley View High School. While it is hard to prepare students for STEM careers that may not exist yet, it is certain is that these new jobs will require critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to identify and solve novel problems. These are the skills we hope students will be introduced to through this project.”

The short-term goal of this initiative is to increase student interest in Valley View STEM classes. By fostering this interest, Boccella and his colleagues hope that more high school students will enter post-secondary study in STEM fields, including traditional four-year college, two-year programs, and apprenticeships.

“It is our hope that the majority of these young people would obtain meaningful and high paying jobs locally, which would improve their lives as well as bolster the local economy,” states Boccella.