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Breaking Barriers in Education

As a teacher, it can be difficult to get any student engaged and invested in their education. But when neglect, homelessness, language barriers, poverty, hunger, and/or disabilities are ever-present, the challenge of getting students to participate and care about their schoolwork increases exponentially. Dealing with such real-life issues makes it hard to concentrate on anything beyond present day struggles.  

For computer science teacher, David Wilson, the experiences that come from teaching in a Title I school are not without challenges. With over half the school’s population qualifying for free/reduced school lunch, many students often wonder where their next meal will come from or where they’ll be sleeping that night. That’s an incredible burden for young people to handle while still trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in this world.

Closing the Exposure Gap

A challenge inner city students face is a lack of exposure to life outside their immediate bubble — including careers that could lift them out of the poverty cycle. Too often, Title I students don’t know what options are available when it comes to career pathways, let alone what they’re capable of achieving.

David says, “Any of our under-resourced students, no matter what socioeconomic status they’re from, if they’re poor they just don’t have the exposure to different kinds of careers. You talk about equity — trying to balance those equations out — equality is gone, there is nothing equal there. But to try to level the playing field, this is the way to do it, exposure to careers.”  

And that’s what David set out to do: level the playing field by exposing his Title I students at Red Bank High School to a variety of careers.

Leveling the Playing Field

It all started when the school guidance counselor introduced David to YouScience and asked him to review it. Excitedly, he jumped at the chance. As he dove into the platform, David found that aptitude-based career guidance was an incredible way to level the playing field by helping ALL students understand how their innate abilities align to certifications and career pathways. By allowing students to discover themselves (i.e., talents and interests) through a series of brain games and then matching them to careers they could actually be good at AND enjoy, YouScience opens a world of possibilities that most students (in any demographic) have never imagined. It also provides educators, like David, with the resources to encourage students to pursue them.

David began implementing YouScience right away. Upon receiving their results, his students were surprised at how accurate their career suggestions were. Surprised, and motivated. Once his students discovered what their innate capabilities coupled with the career options available to them, they engaged more in school and pursued classes that lined up with their YouScience results. They also began to take a hard look at their futures. They reviewed their results with their parents and had candid conversations about the career options presented to them in their profiles.

“Those conversations were amazing, absolutely amazing. Most of the time, the parents were like, ‘Oh yeah, you want to do that? You can do that, but you better get your grades up.’”

David was ecstatic to hear students engaging with their parents on another level about the steps needed to build a promising future.

Certifications Help Title I Students

One of the steps in making those dreams a reality was encouraging his students to take the classes and earn the industry-recognized certifications that coincided with their career choices. Coming out of high school with industry-recognized certifications, like those offered by YouScience, breaks down barriers by helping students stand out and prove to future employers they have the knowledge, skills, and commitment to perform.  

To date, 150 Blue Cross Technology Academy students have gone through their program and the results have been fantastic.

“Students are now focused . . . they take their work in subjects that are going to impact their ability to go in the direction they want to go, more seriously. It gives students the ability to do what most of them can’t do, see beyond right now, beyond what they’re going to do tonight.” 

Breaking Equity Barriers

For some of David’s students who wonder what and when they’ll eat next, if they’ll have to move to transitional housing again, or if DCS is going to take them away from their parents, the biggest impact of YouScience is “getting them to start to dream and have a vision for their lives that goes beyond the here and now.” 

In the words of David Wilson from Blue Cross Technology Academy, “From my perspective, YouScience provides a way to encourage kids that specifically plays to their strengths . . . it gives people who are teaching CTE an ability to know the students in front of them . . . it can drive instruction and help drive student’s personal direction in life. When it really comes down to it, we all want our students to be successful, but we’ve not listened to them and taken the time to get to know them in such a way that would help them define their own success. I think YouScience helps do that.” 

Ready to change lives? Let’s work together to connect students to their best-fit pathways and careers. 

To learn more about YouScience and how this unique platform is changing students’ lives, connect with one of our regional directors.