By Hallie Hundemer-Booth
Delta Airlines and several school districts across Northern Kentucky have been working together to develop a STEM partnership that will benefit teachers, students, Delta employees and the local economy.
I began discussions with Eric Flannery, field director for Delta Airlines, after holding a Kentucky Department of Education Science Teacher Leadership Network meeting at Delta’s facility at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
During this meeting, Delta employees created a learning experience for the teachers using the airlines as a system – including everything from making a reservation to the actual flight – technology, engineering and science. Teachers were provided tours, lesson connections, a question-and-answer session and brainstorming time for idea development. This led Flannery and me to the question, “How can we partner to continue to bring experiences to teachers that enhance classroom instruction and to students who are in need of direction and assist Delta in building a community of successful adults ready for the work world?”
What came out of those initial conversations is the development of an ongoing partnership between Delta and the local school districts, which include Bellevue Independent, Boone, Bracken, Campbell County, Ludlow Independent, Newport Independent and Pendleton. Delta and the school districts are offering intentional opportunities for students to be paired with Delta workers to share their jobs, life skills and provide mentoring. Delta employees benefit by helping students make informed decisions about their future career pathway.
Beginning in the 7th grade, students will take field trip like experiences – also known as career trips – to explore careers related to aviation, such as flight attendant, desk receptionist, baggage claim, airplane mechanic, control tower operations and airline pilot. Delta offers a diverse range of positions requiring job skills, certifications and education. These career trips will be guided with specific questions and career facts for each department. Students will be given a reflection activity to ensure key objectives were met.
“We know that exposure and awareness are the first steps for students as they begin to narrow their career choices,” said Michele Crowley, a Pendleton County teacher that has been involved in setting up the program. “The intentional design of career trips to Delta will open the eyes of many students to careers we think many have never thought about.”
As student’s progress in their career choice development, the partnership will continue to provide resources like guest speakers and other guided career trips to Delta in 8th grade. Based on an application process, selected students in the 9th and 10th grades will have the opportunity to job shadow in specific areas that align to their particular interests. .
Job shadowing provides a relevant learning experience outside the classroom. Employers contribute to the education of youth, promote company culture and showcase occupations that are not as well known or those where there will be a shortage of qualified candidates in the near future. See KDE’s Work-Based Learning Manual for more information about the benefits of job shadowing.
“Together, we want to reach the child who has had limited exposure to career pathways leading to attainable, desirable and competitive careers in the STEM fields” said Rick Smith, a teacher at Ludlow High School (Ludlow Independent), who has been involved in designing the partnership
An advanced level partnership has been developed with Delta to further develop students’ career choices. Up to 20 regional students in grades 11 and 12 will be selected to participate in STEM internships through an application process. These internships will provide weekly mentoring and contact, as well as a one-day internship experience each month.
Internships give students opportunities to explore careers via workplace learning experiences. Students have opportunities to learn about the world of work and to develop useful skills and attitudes. Because students get to see what skills are needed in the workplace, they can make connections as to how what they are learning in the classroom can be used in their future.
The process is intentional. It begins with exposure and awareness to several STEM careers, progresses into a process of mentoring and shadowing, and builds to an advanced level of career experiences through an internship. The progression and intentional design will provide students and Delta employees with a life-changing experience.
The hope of the Northern Kentucky Career Collaborative Project is that other businesses will take notice and want to provide other life-changing opportunities for students in the future. Anyone interested in beginning a similar program or if you would like further information, please contact Hallie Booth at Hallie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hallie Hundemer-Booth comes from a long line of educators and is working for the Kentucky Department of Education as an instructional specialist. Prior to her current position, she was the instructional/Literacy Design Collaborative coach at Holmes Middle School and Holmes High School (Covington Independent), working with middle school science, freshman biology and the district’s career and technical education center.