Community Partnerships offer a Dose of Real Opportunity

In YRDSB, district senior administrators were encouraged to leave their schools to not simply become social members of local service clubs as many educators do, and do well, but to use every possible way to become part of the community fabric, to learn who does what, and how their work might be important to the students in the district. They developed partnerships at the school and district level with large and small employers and several professional groups (including medical, veterinary, and legal). These partners opened their shops and agreed they could be tapped for in-class experiences with primary students, in-class and some on-site experiences by middle school students, and for very real on-site viewing and even working experiences for secondary students. While the latter demanded legal agreements due to liability concerns, and background checks all of which the prospective partners agreed to do, the partners and the district did so understanding the potential high return on these investments for the students and for the employers. And why not, since at the time, approximately 40% of the students went directly into the work force from secondary school. Further, there was and there is today a large number of career jobs available because students were and are unskilled or did not select appropriate post-secondary training or education leaving them unprepared to take these jobs. Imagine if a greater number of students “found their way” as we parents and educators often say; imagine if more of them found the pathway that excited and engaged them early on and they were able to direct themselves into whatever further training was required for that pathway. We call that finding their own TrueNorth.