The new CCMS class is designed to encourage eighth-graders to start planning for life after school

by: JASON CHANEY - Crook County Middle School instructor Troy Waite works with Careers students as they navigate a careers-oriented website.

In eighth grade, many students don't know what they want to do for a living, let alone what it takes to takes to get there.

Crook County Middle School Principal Kurt Sloper is hoping to change that with the help of a new class that encourages them to start planning for adult life.

"We wanted our kids to be thinking about the bigger picture — past middle school, past high," he said. "You are just four short years away when you are in eighth grade. That seems like forever when you are 14, but we know that's not much time."

The middle school's new Careers class, an elective course taught by Troy Waite, is intended to introduce eighth-graders to what it takes to attain the life they envision for adulthood.

"The whole idea of the class is to give kids a framework to think about their future," Sloper said. "(They are) identifying what type of lifestyle they want to lead. What does it take to live that lifestyle? What type of job or career would they have to have to live like that?"

To start, students are asked to develop their ideal lifestyle based upon a variety of questions designed to probe their interests. Waite said the process can push the young students, because they have not thought about such topics before.

"In some ways, we are maybe a little beyond what they're ready for, but we're trying to get them to just narrow in on as much as they can grasp," he said.

The students later learn what it takes to live day-to-day in the adult world, a lesson that often shocks the young teens who have yet to pay bills or manage a household budget.

"There is some realization as to how much they don't know and maybe how naive they are as to how far they think money can be used," Waite said.

Sloper said that education is focusing more on college and career readiness, and they consequently want to start preparing students at the middle school level.

"I think we have to acknowledge that it is more than just a four-year type of process," he said. "Whatever we can do here at the middle school to prepare them for that can only enhance the opportunities and the chances of success."

Although the Careers course is pushing eighth-graders into new territory, Waite believes, after teaching the class for one quarter, that his students are up to the task.

"Once they get started, they realize, 'This is something I could do. This is something within my grasp.'"

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