More Middletown students get chance at career exploration

‘Passport To Tomorrow’ program has given thousands of younger city school students chances to explore possible future careers through learning more how the adult work world functions.

MIDDLETOWN — A popular career exploration program for Middletown students will be expanded to more grades starting in the coming school year.

Officials with Middletown Schools recently announced expansion of its “Passport To Tomorrow” program, which also includes cooperation with various local businesses, city services, Butler Tech and the local chamber of commerce.

The recently completed school year was the first for the new career exploration for kindergarten through fifth grade and in the coming 2023-2024 school calendar students in grades six through eight will now also be included.

The early career exposure program has already given thousands of younger city school students in the 6,000-student district chances to explore possible future careers through learning more how the adult work world functions.

The program features field trips to local companies, city services like police and fire departments, guest speakers and classroom activities all designed to broaden children — and soon teens — understanding of careers and piquing their interests in what sort of employment they may eventually pursue after graduating high school.

“This expansion allows for a continuation of exposing students to all the alternative careers that exist out there in the world of work,” said Deborah Houser, superintendent of Middletown Schools.

The program “offers a real first-hand account of the careers that await our students after graduation and we continue to break down the barriers between school and the outside world,” said Houser.

Jen Hayes, K-12 programs curriculum coordinator for the district, said: “We’re passionate about helping students find what they’re passionate about.”

“So often we wait until students are in high school before exposing them to career opportunities. By showing students the jobs and fields that are out there, they can weed out what their interests are and where their strengths lie,” said Hayes.

School officials noted in their announcement that “through Passport to Tomorrow, all students map out their educational journey uniquely tailored to their dreams. The goal is for every Middie to be college, career, and life ready upon graduation. How each student achieves this success will look different based on the pathways they choose.”

Rick Pearce, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce - Serving Middletown, Monroe, Trenton, said his chamber’s efforts in recruiting more participating companies and organizations played a role in the school program’s first year success and he is looking forward to even more in the coming school year.

“The chamber is recruiting endorsing companies and organizations to work with teachers to provide interactive learning experiences for students on the skills they need to be successful in life after high school. All experiences are tailored to each age group,” said Pearce.

“We have to start building an awareness of local employers with our local student population. Both have to know that local talent does exist and local employers are seeking that talent. All of this will lead to keeping our local talent here and this outcome benefits everyone.”

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