Senior Seminar at Central Montco Technical High School

Posted on Categories Academic/Technical Skill Integration, Career Information and Exploration, College and Career Pathways, Postsecondary Transitions

At a Glance

Using the Career Education and Work Standards (CEW) as a guide, Senior Seminar was developed to teach career literacy to students in every program of study; course syllabus is provided.

Origin / Implementation

Reading specialist and Senior Seminar instructor, Kathy Slattery, shares information about the curriculum she developed:

Years ago, as a reading specialist paid with Perkins funding, I facilitated a remedial reading program at Central Montco Technical High School (CMTHS) and also taught PSSA/Keystone remediation groups. When Perkins was reauthorized in 2006, things changed. Basically, for the next school year, I was no longer permitted to do any type of remediation with students; the key phrase was now “current content.” I could no longer run the PSSA/Keystone Support Program.

I had to revise my role, and my first idea was to go back to the reading program I originally started. However, after reflection, it was decided that the program was repetitive of the support students were getting at their sending schools and it was too close to remediation.

I am very lucky that I have an administration that believes in a bottom-up approach and also has a lot of faith in me. My director, Walt Slauch, tasked me with figuring out what I could do at CMTHS that would teach “current content,” reach as many students as possible, and be compliant with new Perkins regulations.

I thought about what current content is the same across programs. One day it hit me: the clouds parted and the angels sang and I realized I could teach career literacy – that was the same in every program – workplace skills. I returned to CMTHS in the fall of 2007 with a proposal for a new program that I call Senior Seminar (as an English teacher, I like alliteration). My proposal used the Career Education and Work Standards (which is “current content”) to teach career literacy to all seniors. The program includes writing a resume, creating a portfolio, learning important workplace skills, and some financial literacy topics such as creating a budget.

With my proposal approved by administration, I began to write a curriculum for the program, creating lessons and tasks that students would be evaluated on to ensure they had learned the CEW standards. That year, I had a roster of 175 seniors in 17 different programs. We have AM/PM sessions at CMTHS, so my PM schedule was a mirror of my AM schedule. I had to group some similar programs together for management purposes – Public Safety and Health Occupations were together, Collision and Auto were together, etc. I met with each class for about 45-50 minutes a week on the same day/time each week. I also worked with instructors to find the day that worked best for them; we didn’t want students to miss time working in the salon or restaurant, for example, because they had my class. By Friday of each week I had seen all 175 seniors.

When I was a reading teacher, my classroom used couches instead of desks in an effort to get reluctant readers to participate. This environment was a great segue into a program for seniors. We sit on comfortable furniture in a circle and the class is run more like an employee meeting and less like a classroom (see photographs). It is important to me that I help students transition from high school to the world of work, and treating them like young adults is a big help.

Senior Seminar is constantly evolving; it took nine years to get where I am today. The Senior Seminar website is only a year and a half old, but it has become a large part of the program providing in-depth resource information to our students that will help them to make the most out of the careers for which they are training. It is my absolute pleasure to share this program with fellow teachers. I hope you will appreciate the value it provides to our students and that you will take and use all that you find helpful.

My scope and sequence for Senior Seminar can be found here: https://www.cmthsseniorseminar.com/scope

Additionally, my syllabus does a great job of explaining the daily ins and outs of the program:

https://www.cmthsseniorseminar.com/syllabus

Results / Impact

The results of the program have been fantastic. Every senior leaves CMTHS with a job-ready portfolio that includes a resume and supporting documents. In the past few years, I started giving a pre- and post-test to evaluate student learning, and the results have always been very positive with an average overall improvement of 45 to 55 percent.

Senior Seminar engages students – the minute I start talking about money and life after high school, I usually have the students’ undivided attention. They are leaving CMTHS with the skills necessary to enter a career, and I enjoy being able to add to their understanding of the world of work with the information provided in Senior Seminar. I love running into students around town after they graduate and hear, “Ms. Slattery! That resume and portfolio really helped me get a job! Thanks so much.” That always makes me smile – how could it not?

Contact

Central Montco Technical High School
Kathy Slattery, Reading Specialist and Senior Seminar Instructor
kslattery@cmths.org
Course website: www.cmthsseniorseminar.com