Employee Focus: Mary Beth VanBuskirk (OSTC-NW)

2018 MCPA Honoree of the Year pictureVanBuskirk  is 2018 Michigan Career Placement Association Honoree of the Year Award winner

Much of the work done here at Oakland Schools focuses on students in PK-12th grade. But what happens to students when they leave high school?

That’s where someone like Mary Beth VanBuskirk comes in. VanBuskirk is a school to career coordinator at Oakland Schools Technical Campus-Northwest (OSTC-NW) in Clarkston. Her job is to make sure students have an idea of what they want to do once they graduate.

“As I tell the students at the beginning of each year, ‘my job is, if you graduate and leave here on June 1, you have a plan in place for June 2.’  In other words, I do all that I can to help students prepare for where they are going post-secondary.”

VanBuskirk said she explains the various post graduate routes available to students at Northwest: four-year university, trade school, community college, apprenticeship, etc.

“The time we spend with them at the campus exploring these options is my focus,” VanBuskirk explained. “I help them with resume development, job interviewing, job shadowing and placement in paid and unpaid positions in the field.”

Recently, VanBuskirk was recognized for her work by the Michigan Career Placement Association, a statewide group whose goal is to provide direction and leadership services to all personnel who assist in placing students into work-based learning experiences. Cynthia Scherphorn, an Oakland Schools career readiness consultant, who works closely with VanBuskirk, nominated her for the 2018 Michigan Career Placement Association Honoree of the Year Award.

She said she was “thrilled” when she found out VanBuskirk was the one receiving the recognition.

“The individuals who are honored for that really have the ability to work with the students and to not just to do the paperwork, but to work with the students in such a way that the placement is the best placement for them,” explained Scherphorn. “I believe Mary Beth goes above and beyond with that. “

Scherphorn added VanBuskirk also often seeks feedback on how to continue growing professionally.

“In Mary Beth’s time of being here, she has risen to the task of being a very collaborative team member,” she said. “I’ve literally seen her seek information from the group and feedback in order to grow personally and not many people do that.”

VanBuskirk said she was honored to receive the award.

“I’m a huge advocate of learning for purpose, and what greater purpose than to tie it to employment,” she explained. “I love that I get the opportunity to help students “discover their passion” through work in the field.  I am very proud of the students I have helped place in work-based learning positions and, that for many of them, this was the key to their success.”

In her spare time, VanBuskirk said she enjoys activities which allow for natural conversations to happen. She said she is also very excited to be a grandmother in March to a set of twins (a boy and a girl).

“I like to read (book club), bowl, shoot archery and play cards – all of which allow fellowship,” she said.

Sarah Davis is the communications specialist for Oakland Schools.


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