Thomas Jefferson High School prioritizing college and career readiness

West Jefferson Hills School District  |  Posted on

Pharmacist Toni Aceto was among TJ’s PLT Career Panel Series guests

Personalized Learning Time (PLT) is a unique and rewarding experience for the students and staff at Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ). Students can schedule two 30-minute activities and one 30-minute lunch each day. During this mid-day window, students can schedule academic support, enrichment opportunities and club activities that interest them.

Starting this year, TJ has added an emphasis on college and career readiness to its PLT offerings. The HS faculty and staff have networked with community members in different career fields and invited them in to present to students about their careers during PLT.

Since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, more than 50 PLT Career Panel Series sessions have been hosted by TJHS staff, through March 2022. Career sessions have included speakers in the fields of: health science, audio/visual arts, finance, marketing, military, law, law enforcement, IT and more. These sessions provide valuable insight to the high school students. By attending a PLT Career Panel, students can hear directly from someone in the field and learn more about what high school and post-high school courses and experiences will be beneficial to them on that career path.

In addition, students can learn about a typical day on the job and ask questions. The goal of the PLT Career Panel Series is to provide TJ students with as many relevant career-related opportunities as possible to prepare them for life beyond high school.

Junior Eva Lavrinc has taken advantage of exploring potential careers in STEM by attending sessions. “I’m potentially considering pharmacy as a career. I thought maybe I would get to see a doctor or nurse come in during PLT this year, so it was cool to see pharmacy as a session. I was really happy with the hands-on experience. Being able to hear about not only what someone makes for a living or what path they took in school, but also what they do in their job and how it’s useful was a great experience. I’ve attended many of the PLT Career Sessions and the hands-on experience provided in this session made it so much more engaging!”

Senior Clinical Trial Manager Danielle Fisher recently presented a PLT session to educate students about careers in clinical project management. “I really love that you do this for the kids. It is such a great way to expose kids to non-traditional career paths,” said Fisher after her virtual session.

Social Studies teachers Leah Freeman and Daniele Winkworth hosted career sessions that created additional opportunities for their students last fall. “Sharon Doerk shared her valuable insight and experiences as an employee of the federal government with current and former Civics & Government students during PLT and in the ninth grade Civics & Government classes. Through this opportunity, she was able to connect pieces of our curriculum with the real world, thereby giving our students ownership over their learning. In the past, when students embarked on exploring potential careers in the executive branch, they struggled to match their interests and ambitions to future opportunities. Ms. Doerk was able to bridge this gap through her interactive presentation and offer students a greater understanding and enthusiasm for this activity. This was a truly engaging opportunity for our students and one that will benefit them for years to come!” said Freeman and Winkworth.

Earlier this year, Nurse Anesthetist Kelly Malone presented to TJ students during PLT. She provided a wealth of information about her career and the skills and education necessary to work in this medical profession. Freshman Jayden Khulila attended this career PLT and stated, “It helped me learn more about the nurse anesthetist career and to see the requirements I need in high school and college.”

Providing TJ students time in the day to learn about potential careers without interrupting their scheduled school day is a great benefit to all who attend, helping students to make informed post-secondary decisions. Providing career PLTs to all students educates them on what skills and knowledge is needed to enroll in college, enter the workforce after graduating from TJ or enlist in the military.

In addition to career readiness, TJ has expanded college visits due to the flexibility of PLT. The Guidance Department hosted 71 in-person and virtual college admissions meetings for students to learn more about collegiate institutions. Community colleges, local universities, and military academies have all visited TJ this year. The high school also hosted military PLTs that educate students on the opportunities and benefits each of the armed forces can provide TJ students.

Thomas Jefferson students will be Future Ready by being informed and equipped with the knowledge and skills to reach their goals and dreams by learning about the many different opportunities that await them.