When business owners are asked what students need to succeed in the workplace, the answers are similar: they need to be academically competent with workforce ready skills.
A year ago, Fairless Local decided to take a new approach to ensure those skills for their graduates. They designed a program for seniors - aptly named LifeReady Badging
- in partnership with ArtsinStark, East Central Ohio Building Trades, Kent State University Stark, Malone University, the Shelly Company, Stark Education Partnership, Stark State College, the United States Military, University of Akron, and Walsh University.
The three-day series fulfills the Ohio Department of Education capstone pathway for graduation, but the goal is much bigger than graduation. The goal is to develop graduates who have the life-ready soft skills needed to be competitive and successful in an ever-changing economy. Students experience sessions led by working professionals, university and local leaders, and members of the armed services who provide guidance, instruction, and mentoring to seniors on their path to graduation.
The first LifeReady professional development day for seniors was held this October. Students engaged in morning sessions taught by Kent State University faculty on the topics of emotional intelligence, creativity, and conflict resolution. The lunch speaker, Mike Gallina, an Aultcare executive, introduced tools for goal setting and a decision making matrix that may be used for any life challenge. This was followed by a hands-on, team, problem-solving experience lead by ArtsinStark.
During the afternoon, students attended a college fair and heard about additional pathways presented by leaders from the trade unions and military. In every session, students had the opportunity to interact with representatives and ask important questions. The day ended with students viewing a Simon Sinek interview challenging them to reflect on the difficulties faced by millennials entering the workforce and were prompted with questions by Dr. Teresa Purses.
Fairless Curriculum Director, Michael Hearn, explained "Students who complete this series will earn a KSU Stark endorsed "LifeReady Badge" that will be placed on their high school transcript. We believe these experiences will provide Fairless students with opportunities to reflect on their future goals and aspirations and have support through the process."