Hub 19 develops graduation profile tool

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — Dubois County teachers will soon have another tool to ensure students at all four school districts learn the soft skills they need to be successful.

A committee of educators from across the county have been working for several months at Hub 19, a collaboration of local industry and education that grew out of the Regional Opportunity Initiatives Ready Schools grant that the four county school corporations worked together to win in 2018. The committee released the first page of the graduation profile at a countywide professional development day earlier this year.

A graduation profile has become a popular tool in education in recent years. It is a document that breaks down what skills a school wants its students to have when they graduate. For Dubois County, the committee came up with nine competencies: prepare; relate; initiate; communicate; collaborate; design; contribute; excel; and balance.

The document distributed at the professional development day includes these nine competencies, as well as additional explanation on each. For example, prepare means that students will be able to learn and apply academic and personal finance skills and explore multiple career paths.

For now, the committee has asked teachers across the county to display the document in their classrooms so they and their students can become familiar with it. Hannah Sitzman, a member of the committee and a teacher at Cedar Crest Intermediate School, said she hopes teachers take it a little bit further.

“Hopefully they incorporate [the words] into their language when they’re talking to students about their futures,” Sitzman said.

The idea to create a graduation profile grew out of work done while applying for the Ready Schools grant, Hub 19 Coordinator Rick Gladish said. While in the beginning stages of developing the profile, the committee — which included representation from all four county school districts and Kate Schwenk, a human resources generalist with Jasper Engines and Transmissions — looked at graduation profiles from several school districts and visited Eminence Independent School in Eminence, Kentucky, to see how teachers might use the document. Eminence’s superintendent, Buddy Barry, is well-known in the education field and was the keynote speaker at the countywide professional development day where the committee launched the graduation profile.

If done well and used in the classroom, Gladish said, a graduation profile can become an important guiding document for education.

“It helps you look at your graduates and try to provide a full range of outcomes,” he said.

For local employers, Schwenk said, the graduation profile provides a clue that Dubois County graduates likely have the soft skills — such as being on time, communicating clearly and taking initiative — that employers want, but struggle to find.

“We can teach [hirees] the processes of Jasper Engines, but we can’t always teach them the soft skills,” Schwenk said. “Or we would prefer they have those soft skills when they walk in the door.”

The graduation profile aims to help teachers begin teaching those soft skills as soon as students enter elementary school and to continue teaching the skills through senior year of high school.

Although the committee has completed the first page of the profile that explains the nine competencies, there is much more work to be done. Over the summer, grade-level committees will meet to create grade-level exemplars, which will be examples of activities and projects students can complete under each competency at each grade level to help them learn the skills. For example, attending the annual Tour of Opportunity hosted by Vincennes University Jasper that shows students the many employers available locally, would be an exemplar for high school freshmen under “prepare.”

Once the exemplars are complete, the graduation profile will become a working document that is put into practice and updated every so often. Gladish said there have also been discussions about eventually developing the profile into a certificate of sorts that graduates can earn upon graduation and take to local employers as a way to document their soft skills. Gladish emphasized that that is still in the discussion phase.

Right now, the focus is finishing the exemplars and putting the graduate profile into action so it can help teachers and students. For Sitzman, the potential of the document is exciting.

“It’s exciting to know it’s something that will have a lot of impact,” she said.




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