by Tamaria Kelly
Middle School Success Project Coordinator
Learning Outside of the Classroom
During the week of March 23-26, more than 700 Buncombe County middle school students participated in Students @ Work Week, a joint project of the North Carolina Business Council for Education (NCBCE) and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The goal is for North Carolina businesses to help middle school students connect opportunities that exist in the workplace to educational opportunities in their daily school experience.
Students choose professions that interest them. The week includes workplace visits and conversations with professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), healthcare, hospitality, and arts and culture sectors to give students an idea of what to expect from the field. In Buncombe County, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County was one of seven organizations that coordinated the activities for this year’s Students @ Work Week.
Students in the Workplace
I had the pleasure to serve as an on-site representative on Arts/Culture Day and Hospitality Day. While Asheville and Buncombe County middle school students were participating in Students @ Work Week’s activities, I reminisced on my middle school years. I would have never guessed back in middle school that throughout my career, I would be exploring my interests at different sectors. During Students @ Work Week, students had an amazing opportunity to learn more about how their interests can fit in different sectors.
Studies have shown that students learn best through hands-on learning. Students @ Work Week has provided hands-on learning and career exploration to middle school students in our own community for a few years now. In addition to students learning from professionals in their communities, it is fair to say professionals also learned something from the students. For any community to move forward, it is essential to reach out and invest in our future professionals: students. Many of our community’s future professionals will be able to reflect on their middle schools years and acknowledge the positive impact Students @ Work Week had on their career trajectory.
United Way's Middle School Success partners with Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools, nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education to create collaborative approaches to our common challenges. As an AmeriCorps VISTA member, Tamaria Kelly coordinates the development of an Early Warning and Response system and supports various projects of the Asheville-Buncombe Middle Grades Network.
Apply to Serve
We are currently accepting applications for three AmeriCorps VISTA positions. If you're interested in applying, check out the job descriptions.
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