CFE expands focus to k-12 career readiness

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Local students participate in CFE’s annual STEM camp.

Oakland Schools is known throughout the state as the intermediate school district many model themselves after. But in order to remain a leader, Oakland Schools’ administration must constantly evaluate the services and guidance we offer to districts to ensure the most current educational trends and teachings are demonstrated locally.

About two years ago, administrators decided it was time to revamp Career Focused Education (CFE), a unit that falls under the District and School Services. According to Tammy Brown-Williams, supervisor and manager of CFE, the unit used to focus more on supporting the CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs within Oakland County’s 28 school districts, as well as providing curriculum and instruction support to Oakland Schools’ four Technical Campuses.

“However, we decided to reshape how we deliver our services to the county,” said Brown-Williams. “We are now promoting a k-12 career readiness system.”

So what does that mean exactly?

A student support team consisting of a dean, counselor social worker and special education expert are in place at all four Oakland Schools Technical Campuses to free up resources there and allow for CFE to expand its career exploration opportunities.

“Now, the goal of CFE is to create awareness of career pathways at each grade level: elementary, middle and high school,” explained Brown-Williams.

Examples of some newer programs implemented to achieve this goal would be STEM camps, visiting college campuses and local industry and business leaders speak at schools. At the elementary level, the hope is to have career-focused literature introduced to youngsters.

Also, past programs have focused mostly on students. Now CFE also includes programming geared toward educating parents, teachers and counselors so anyone who engages with the material will understand how to best direct students.

Examples of those programs would be the Teachers/Administrators in Industry, which began in 2018. The programs take teachers and administrators out of the schools and bring them into local businesses so they can learn what career opportunities are available. The hope is these mentors then will not only pass the information on to students, but also be intentional in connecting the relevance of their subject content to careers. All students need a career, no matter what their postsecondary plans are.

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A representative of DASI Solutions, a 3D software and printing company in Pontiac, speaks to students about career possibilities. 

Further, a first-ever Parent Expo will be held at Oakland Schools March 26. There, five major industries will be highlighted and representatives from each field will be there to talk to parents about career options for their children.

“Then they can help guide students to make more informed choices,” said Brown-Williams.

Perhaps one of the more exciting programs Oakland Schools is about to launch is a mobile STEM lab. Brown-Williams said administration is working to secure a semi-trailer outfitted with eight to nine modules highlighting advanced manufacturing fields. Two STEM consultants will be hired to oversee the trailer’s operations. Brown Williams said Oakland Schools is the first ISD in the region to create such a learning center.

She added her unit has learned some local districts are starting to implement some of the programs Oakland Schools CFE started, which serves the ISD’s purpose.

“We want to not only hold events, but help districts plan activities on their own to fit with their goals,” she said.

Sarah Davis is the communications specialist at Oakland Schools.

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