A new program being piloted at B-L Elementary School this year is opening students’ eyes to a whole new world of career opportunities. The program, which is called Panther College, is designed to engage and motivate fifth grade students by helping them “connect the dots” between their interests and their career goals, thus showing them the importance of the learning that takes place every day within their school walls.
“Panther College is an opportunity for us to expose our elementary school-aged children to careers that they don’t even know they are interested in yet. My job as a school leader is to help students dream big dreams, achieve their goals and impact the world through their gifts. I believe that Panther College is going to help to do that,” said Matt Velasquez, Principal of B-L Elementary School.
So far this school year, Panther College has been held once and the schedule was adjusted so that students could attend these special classes during the related arts block. Fifth grade students could choose to attend classes relating to ten possible career paths, including agriscience, culinary arts, drama, electrical engineering, HVAC/plumbing, nursing, photography, sports marketing, teaching and turf grass. Some of the classes were taught by B-L Elementary School teachers and staff members who have experience in these fields, while others were taught by outside specialists.
In addition to allowing students to discover possible career paths that might interest them, Panther College also puts into action important skills that are used by students in their regular academic classes, including goal setting techniques, data tracking, literacy skills and technology.
The goal is to eventually expand Panther College to all grade levels within the school.