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Saturday, December 9, 2023


March 24, 2001 – A need "to do something different" is how Dr. Rebecca Dedmond characterized the focus of a two-day School-to-Work/Career institute held Friday and Saturday at the St. John Westin Resort.
Dedmond, director of the School-to-Work/Career program for the Labor Department, said the institute, commonly called "Operation Jump Start," is a way to relate what is being taught in the classrooms to the real world of work. It's aimed at all involved in the job-oriented educational process – teachers, administrators, counselors, community/business leaders, parents and students themselves.
At its best, she said, the School-to-Work approach to education enables young people to identify and explore a broad array of career opportunities.
Representatives of the Labor and Education Departments, Parent-Teacher Associations and the business community as well as students took part in the Friday sessions.
St. John resident Emanuel Boyd, PTA representative and parent of a high school student, said the institute has given him a clearer picture of where the educational system is headed in terms of preparing young people for the 21st century. He said he hopes the institute will continue to promote student involvement in curriculum development.
Mildred Francis, bilingual education curriculum coordinator at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School on St. Thomas, said she hopes "such efforts increase my awareness of the career opportunities available to Hispanic students."
Mario Francis, Julius E. Sprauve School principal, said his interests lie in training students in the technical skills and computer literacy that they will need to face the employment demands of the 21st century.
As a part of the institute, participants broke up into teams to come up with possible remedies to real problems faced by teens in pursuing career goals. The proposals they came up with will be reported back to school personnel, parents and business leaders for possible use in assisting students to meet their goals.
Specialists from off island as well as the Virgin Islands led institute sessions.
During Friday's activities the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the territory's School-To-Work/ Career program, formalizing a partnership.
"By working with partners in the public and private sectors, with community groups and with families and individuals, and by carefully leveraging social and financial resources, HUD has an impact on America's communities," Michael A. Colon, HUD Caribbean coordinator, said in remarks. The vision of the V.I. program, he said, is to develop a comprehensive territory-wide school system, pre-kindergarten through grade 12 "that prepares students to become part of an emerging workforce and independent, lifelong learners."
The institute was funded under the federal Opportunties Act of 1994, which provides for quality education, employment prospects, adult role models and post-secondary education options for all students.

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