Purpose: Explore provides a clear focus for learning and engagement through an introduction to career and technical education in middle school. The model provides purpose and vision for students and creates a 6th through 12th grade pathway of learning by serving as a bridge between middle and high school. Engagement, exposure, and equity are the heart of Explore. The goal is to give our students choice and opportunity early on to get them excited about their futures.
Explore was designed with the social and emotional needs of middle school kids in mind. We know that students thrive when they have choice in their learning and feel a sense of belonging. Through Explore, students will go through a rotation of pathway offerings in 6th grade. Then at the end of 6th grade, they will choose their 7th and 8th grade pathway in a special selection ceremony. Over the next two years, students will experience project based learning, guest speakers, field trips to local high schools, and the creation of a capstone backpack artifact that connects to their passion.
It’s important to understand that Explore is NOT about students choosing a career, but instead, it’s about hands-on learning and student choice during a time when many students can easily become disengaged. Prior to Explore, students had to choose between taking an art and music based elective or pursuing career and technical education electives such as robotics or healthcare. Now, due to funding and staffing, kids get to have both. It’s a win-win for all.
The Program has five core beliefs:
Equitable access to opportunities and resources
Increased student engagement and sense of belonging
Student empowerment through Design Thinking (Project Based Learning)
Promotion of 21st Century Learning and the Backpack of Success Skills