"How can we better prepare our students for life?" was the question on the table during Wednesday's reVISION meeting, hosted by the Wayne Community Schools.
Corey Epler, Ph.D. with the Nebraska Department of Education, led the community engagement meeting, the second phase of the re-VISION process.
He told his audience of approximately 50 business leaders, college members and Wayne Community Schools staff that the school had received a grant to go through the process of determining how the school can better serve and prepare students for life following graduation.
The process involved forming a committee to list the current Career Education courses and programs offered by Wayne Community Schools. This was completed last fall and Wednesday's community gathering was the second phase of the grant requirements. A second committee meeting will be held in the coming months to look at the feedback gathered at this meeting.
Epler spent considerable time explaining the need to offer courses in the school system to prepare all students for careers in the fields that are needed in the community.
"Career conversations need to start in the elementary school and continue through high school. When I was in high school, I wanted to be an accountant... until I took an accounting class and did not like it," Epler said. He used his personal example to highlight the fact that schools need to offer students the experiences they need to determine their career path.
He also noted that not every student needs a four-year degree and that in most cases, choosing a career is more important than choosing a college.
Epler also stressed that Nebraska schools are some of the best in the country and the graduation rates in the state are among the highest, especially for students who have had the opportunity to take classes in their chosen career path in high school.
"Education and workforce institutions need to be tightly aligned around the state's economic priorities to best serve the students and future members of the workforce," Epler said.
Attendees at the meeting had an opportunity to share information with each other on workforce needs and what the school can do to better meet these needs.
After completion of the re-VISION grant's requirements, the school can ask for technical assistance from the Nebraska Department of Education.
The school may then apply for grant funding for up to three years to help with the implementation of a plan to align the Career Education program with workforce needs.