This article was originally published in the Reading Eagle: https://www.readingeagle.com/2022/09/15/superintendents-forum-a-preview-to-keep-the-dream-in-view/
By: Dr. Ryan Giffing, Conrad Weiser Area School District Superintendent
Thursday, September 15, 2022
READING, PA- For better or for worse, I am a lifelong fan of the Philadelphia Phillies (I know, cue the deep sigh and disapproving look). My son and I enjoy watching the games on TV, but with our family’s busy schedule we often rely on the magic of DVR and will watch a game that has already been played.
One thing I have noticed is that when I watch a recorded game, of which I already know the outcome, I can watch it with less anxiety because I know what’s ahead. Having a preview of what’s to come allows me to anticipate the good (or the bad) plays and helps to put my mind at ease a bit.
In life, we rarely seem to have the opportunity to have a preview. For our students, however, there is a way to provide them with a glimpse of their future. As the superintendent of schools for the Conrad Weiser Area School District, I am fortunate to hear success stories from our students who participate in great opportunities through our outstanding Internship Program, our Dual Enrollment Course offerings, and our partnership with the Berks Career and Technology Center (BCTC).
The three opportunities above offer students the ability to dip their toes into the world after graduation in a very low-risk way. Through our Internship Program, I have heard stories of students gaining valuable real-world job experiences that will give them a leg up on their completion during an interview for employment in the future. One student was even able to realize that it wasn’t a career in physical therapy that she wanted, it was occupational therapy. This allowed her to better focus her course of studies after graduation.
We are also very fortunate to have strong partnerships with local colleges and universities and can offer our high school students access to college-level courses. These dual-enrollment courses are offered at a reduced rate, currently $99 per credit, and are a way for students to get ahead in their courses for their first year of college.
This is also a way for families to save money as some students are able to graduate college early because of the dual-enrollment courses they took in high school. These college-level courses also give students an opportunity to see if college is right for them.
The third opportunity that we have for our students is through the BCTC. Highly-skilled instructors take students through their choice of programming in Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Computer Systems Networking and Security, Communications, Construction, Medical Health Professions, and Sports Medicine, as well as Automotive and Diesel Technology, and more.
Students who complete these programs leave with certifications that propel them in their career paths after graduation. In one case I know of a student whose experience at the BCTC landed him a job in a chemical warehouse where he quickly gained the attention of his supervisors. They entered him into a management-training program that included 100% paid tuition for him to get his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
These are a only few examples of the great work that is happening and the opportunities that our students have to get a “preview” of what opportunities are ahead for them. With the proper support from our staff, students in the Conrad Weiser Area School District have the opportunity to expand their real-world experiences in high school. This experience provides them with a window into the future and helps to set them up for success ahead.
I wish the future was as bright for the Phillies…