Near the northeastern corner of Indiana, the East Noble School Corporation (ENSC) serves 3,686 students in Noble County. We have five elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one alternative learning center. 51% of our students are on free or reduced lunches. Manufacturing dominates the industries in the area, employing over a third of the adult population. Given current economic trends, businesses intend to increase hiring, and graduates with the right combination of skills out of school can fulfill these labor gaps while increasing their professional capacities.
While we have not completely moved away from the “college first” mentality, we believe our students need practical business experience that prepares them for life beyond primary school. We recognize that not every student needs to attain a four-year degree in order to lead fulfilling and successful careers, nor do they necessarily need to do what is easiest or follow along with what their friends or relatives have done professionally. In order to maximize their career opportunities, we engage students at all levels in STEM activities, exposing them to career avenues from grade 1, leading to more specific training in career pathways at the high school level based on their passions. Upon graduating, 93% of our students follow a STEM career pathway.
Following our strategic plan for 2018-2023, we will accomplish this by setting rigorous standards for students’ career and character development. For example, all high school students must complete 25 hours of volunteer activities. Likewise, students in our Career Ready program must attain a state or industry recognized credential or certification such as a federally recognized apprenticeship, a Career Technical Education concentration, or earn a minimum ASVAB score for admittance to the military. This is to ensure that all students have solid career options once they graduate.
In order to support these strategies, we participated in Digital Promise’s Real World Learning Challenge Collaborative. This expanded our students’ capacity to link classroom learning with real world application of concepts through internships (paid and unpaid), work-based learning, job shadows, project based learning, and virtual guest speakers using the Nepris platform. Access to these programs impacted students by giving them real world experiences so that they could make informed decisions regarding career pathways and passions. We have developed our Real World Learning Advisory Committee in order to evaluate the R&D data to inform best practices so that we can provide opportunities at the highest quality possible.