Profile of an Ideal Jeffco Graduate?

It’s sometimes helpful to “begin with the end in mind,” and then work backwards to design a system which creates that outcome.

For many of our students, the formal connection they have with our schools culminates with graduation. So, we should be asking if we have adequately prepared our students for life at the point of graduation, and set them up for future success.

So, what kinds of competencies, traits, skills, and abilities should an ideal Jeffco graduate have? What’s on your list?

Please weigh in and post in the comments section below. Later next week, I will also post some of my ideas.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

23 thoughts on “Profile of an Ideal Jeffco Graduate?

  1. Strong executive function skills – organization, planning, emotional regulation, flexibility, task initiation – those education enablers that are so critical to success after school (as well as in school), and that must be incorporated at the earliest levels of education to provide kids who lack executive function skills with strong coping options. Too many of our children are faltering in middle school because people expect them just to figure out the EF skills – and for whatever reason, many of them cannot do so on their own. This is a great program that some in our elementary school use, and I would love to see it implemented more broadly: http://efs2therescue.com. These are far more critical life skills than how our kids perform on standardized tests.

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  2. Skills for life including, but not only, job skills. Useful math (calculus AND statistics and business math), how to recognize and weigh evidence to make good decisions in work and home life and how to be a good citizens (science and social studies), how to cook healthful meals (home economics), make creative use of time away from work (literature, art, music, writing), how to understand our fellow humans around our neighborhood and world (geography, economics, foreign languages), how to care for our bodies and our environment (science), how to make useful things (engineering, home ec, shop).

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  3. Jeffco Graduates:
    Think Critically
    Collaborate to Creatively solve challenging problems
    Use their native language and culture as an asset
    Value and embrace cultural and linguistic diversity
    Enter into discussions with an open mind
    Proactively seek to understand multiple perspectives
    Are Empowered, Creative, Self-Directed Learners
    Are Inspired by Possibilities
    Serve as role models in their school and community.
    Own their learning
    Explore new frontiers, ask hard questions, try new things
    Value and nuture their physical and emotional health
    Find joy in pursuing their passions and interests
    Have a Maker Mindset
    View mistakes as a chance to learn
    Are problem solvers and systems thinkers
    Research, curate, and communicate with the world
    Our job is not to prepare students for something. Our job is to help students prepare themselves for anything.
    C.J. Cain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This captures so many of my thoughts. The one thing I would add specifically, as part of researching, curating and communicating with the world, is the value of knowing another language. JeffCo schools are behind in this regard.

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    2. This captures so many of my thoughts so well. No need to repeat. The only thing I would add, as part of the goal of researching, curating and communicating with the world, is that our schools need to emphasize dual languages starting at an early age. We are way behind in this!

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  4. What a great question.

    Looking back, the most important skill I graduated from Lakewood High School with was the ability to write. I remember the writing drills we did at the beginning of every single class period in Mrs. Zamboni’s AP English class. The ability to marshal thoughts into order and clearly express ideas in writing is, after all, the ability to think. If you can write well, you will be more successful in any personal or professional endeavor you choose. The basic writing skills I learned at Lakewood High School were the foundation of success in earning a Bachelor’s degree form University of Colorado Boulder, in my first job as a library technician, in subsequent jobs in fundraising and grant writing, in working for the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer, and in my work in advocacy and community development.

    One competency I left LHS without is a grasp of economics. I earned a minor in economics in college and that knowledge has informed my understanding of many aspects of life. It helps me discern the value of information and guides which policies and candidates I support. I really believe that a basic understanding of economics is essential for good citizenship.

    Thanks for asking. I look forward to your ideas.

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  5. I will leave the academic requirements to those who know more about those issues. However, I would encourage Jeffco to make sure that our students graduate with skills in some “Adulting” topics that I don’t see in all of our graduates today. They need to be able to do things like write a check, write a resume, address and stamp an envelope, fill out a 1040 EZ tax form, perform well in an interview for an entry level job and understand norms around device use, etc. These are topics that I have coached my own Jeffco grads and others in. I have also witnessed teachers squeezing lessons on these skills into the curriculum in some schools.
    Most basically, I wish that all Jeffco grads could complete their senior year with the same love of learning and inquisitive nature that they bring to school on the first day of Kindergarten. This was my wish for the district’s GT high school program at WRHS when we engaged in a visioning process 10 years ago. I look forward to working as a community with our new leadership on these important topics.

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  6. Thanks for engaging the public with these thoughtful questions.

    In addition to the other great suggestions above, Jeffco graduates need to be:

    1) BILINGUAL: Although Jeffco is predominately white and English speaking, the cultural dynamic is changing. To be prepared to work anywhere in the US, we need bilingual graduates.

    2) HEALTHY: Our kids live in a more complicated and competitive world than the one we grew up in. Let’s give them the tools for physical, social, and emotional wellness in health and movement classes. Boulder Valley requires 5 credits of health classes and 15 credits of PE (including yoga!) to graduate high school. What benefit is being well-educated if you are stressed, sick or unhappy?

    3) PRACTICAL: We need real-life, practical experiences for kids: preparing taxes, engaging government officials, writing thank you notes, changing a flat tire or how to get credit/business loans. These are skill sets that will never go out of style.

    Thanks for your time. I’m excited for the future of Jeffco schools under your leadership.

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  7. Can’t say enough about the importance of writing well, as mentioned previously.
    Also echoing others, I’d like to see more business classes offered so high school students have deeper experience upon graduation. The Jefferson County Business Education Alliance JCBEA.org offers a great Career Readiness Program http://jcbea.org/programs/ – but it’s after school and not available at every high school. JCBEA has also taken over the Youth Leadership Jefferson County program (formerly run by the West Chamber and on hiatus last year) http://jcbea.org/youth-leadership-jefferson-county, but space is limited and participating students have to miss a full day of classes each month. These programs are powerful and worthy. Can we find a way to build similar opportunities into curriculum so more students can benefit? Can we at least help more schools offer DECA? And, can we expand access to mentoring and internship programs? Businesses and non-profits will embrace opportunities to invest in Jeffco students – many already do. How can we replicate programs such as the Goodwill Industries Mentor Program http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/28/jefferson-high-students-mentors/ and the Executive High School Internship Program http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/28/jefferson-high-students-mentors/ so more students can benefit? Jeffco Schools is itself such a diverse operation. Imagine the many areas where students could intern right in our own district.
    Thank you for asking!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Finding ways to get students learning in an integrated way within their broader community as part of their education is critical. It creates relationships with working people outside of their immediate families, and can help them understand what is (and what is not) interesting for them to focus on as they continue their education.

      I feel like sometimes the hardest challenge we place on our kids is telling them they can do everything, and not giving them a way to figure out what they do (and do not) actually enjoy doing enough to earn a living doing. Because no one can do everything, nor needs to do everything.

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  8. Today’s graduate would benefit from having the ability to communicate well in when speaking, collaborating, and writing. Many fully matriculated students are able to problem-solve like wizards, but lack even basic professional writing skills. Helping students to develop the foundational writing skills in K-12 will help them to communicate in the workplace. Students should not only have grit, but actually be able to identify a “grapple” when they see it. Giving kids time to struggle, versus perform on standardized tests, will help them to approach any assessment (academic, personal, or occupational) with confidence. Being able to identify their personal strengths and places of potential growth is a key skill in an actualized adult, and schools can support students in developing these skills. Finally, students need authentic experiences in their life-long learner tool-boxes. These experiences can provide them with touchstones as they grow into adults.

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  9. Jeffco graduates should be equipped with the knowledge and training to handle the career demands of the 21st century. Jeffco curriculum needs a lot of overhaul and needs to add computer science in a big way.

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  10. I am a parent of two Jeffco students. The district prepared one very well. She is a new college graduate and preparing for her first job. My other student has not been well served by the district. By the time he reached kindergarten it was clear that he had significant mental health challenges. While we have worked extensively with resources outside the schools his academic environment has not served him well. Students with mental health issues need to be identified and provided with services as soon as possible. I believe with early access to appropriately trained teachers and a smaller learning environment he would be on his way to graduation. While he is currently in an environment where he seems to be doing well, I do not expect him to graduate and as a high school junior it is probably too late to change that trajectory.

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  11. I think we need to recognize that some Jeffco graduates are not interested in pursuing a college degree. Perhaps there should be an expansion of the technical arts? So many opportunities exist through Warren Tech. Many students don’t know how our what lies in the periphery of metal work, plumbing, electrical work, welding, hearing/refrigeration, etc… If we want young people to “buy in” to the importance of reading, writing, and math, we have to show them the relevance other than doing well on a standardized test. I know I am reluctant to engage in something that doesn’t seem to have a point, purpose, or potentially positive outcome. Look at the Academy programs taking place at Green Mountain High School. Colleen Owens is leading some incredible and inspiring programs.

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