Connections Conference

by Ifeyinwa Onyenekwu / Mar 31, 2015

In this blog Project Coordinator, Ife Onyenekwu, shares her experience presenting at the annual Connections Conference and attending a session about career opportunities for students.

This year’s Connections Conference was held in St. Charles, Illinois at Pheasant Run Resort. Pathways Resource Center’s (PRC) Graduate Research Assistant, Asia Fuller Hamilton, and Project Coordinator Ife Onyenekwu co-presented with Joliet Township High School District 204 Project Director, Carol Collins, to a packed room of educators and school guidance counselors. Their presentation, entitled Support Student Career and College Decisions through Work-Based Learning Programs, shared research on features of effective work based learning programs and provided examples of work based learning programs in Illinois schools districts. Carol Collins, shared information on how her district supported students’ career aspirations through the Joliet High School Job Shadowing program. Participants received information on program implementation, student involvement, and the responsibilities of community partners.

Similarly, Brian Gordon and Neal Kauffman from Three Rivers Education for Employment presented on career opportunities for students. Their presentation, entitled Today’s Careers: What our Students Really need to Know, reviewed pre- employment exams from large and small STEM employers and their requirements as they relate to Common Core Standards. Presenters reported that Human Resource personnel from major manufacturing and industry companies are not able to find qualified individuals who can pass exams that require applied math principles and technical reading skills. As a result, the presenters advocate for teachers to integrate pre-employment exams into their classroom lesson plans and expose students to the job market while they are in high school. In doing so, students can have a practical understanding on how what they are learning in the classroom applies to the real world.

Ifeyinwa (Ife) Onyenekwu research focuses on policy and practices impacting the K-20 education system and students’ college readiness. She is particularly interested in understanding how stakeholders connect research to policy and practice.