Career advisors discuss NRCC-high school partnership at national conference
|New River Community College enrollment management and career pathways coordinator Deborah Kennedy and Tonya Vaden, career counselor for Giles County Public Schools recently made a joint presentation at the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) Conference in Richmond.
Kennedy and Vaden’s presentation, entitled “Dancing the Virginia Reel: How to ‘Do-Si-Do’ and Place Students on the Paths to Success,” concentrated on the steps NRCC uses to partner with local high schools, specifically those in Giles County, to create postsecondary transitions that help guide students toward successful futures.
“What we focused on were the many different things that NRCC and Giles do in relation to one another to work with students and help set them on the path to success,” says Kennedy. “Everything that we do is dedicated to helping students make a seamless transition.”
“NRCC starts working with students in the ninth grade through Giles’ “Reality Store” and in the tenth grade, they complete special career assessments – both of which are coordinated by Tonya [Vaden]. Students then visit us for Career Day in the eleventh grade and can begin taking dual-enrollment courses.” she says. “When the students become seniors, we spend time doing on-site placement testing and course registration to help prepare them for their transition to college.”
Kennedy and Vaden chose the dance metaphor, specifically the Virginia Reel, because the dance is full of transitions. Dancers are constantly moving from one place to another and from partner to partner. “The students go through many different transitions along the way,” says Kennedy. “And NRCC and Giles must do-si-do around one another to provide them with what they need at each step in the process – without stepping on each other’s toes.”
Of particular note, says Kennedy, was how far ahead she feels Virginia is with regard to career pathways partnerships. “During our discussion of dual enrollment courses, many conference participants from other states told us it was a real battle to get those kinds of programs going in their states,” she says.
In the ongoing dance that is the work of setting students on the path to success, Kennedy says that Vaden’s support through the Giles County school system is ultimately what makes the partnership work. “She is an integral part of making this program work,” says Kennedy. “She’s an excellent ‘dance partner.’”