HMS Career Field Trip

Options and opportunities are two words that are prevalent in Haywood County Schools.  The district’s priority is to prepare students to be able to take advantage of any future possibilities they may want to pursue as well as equip them with the necessary skills to be successful in those endeavors.  While preparing students academically and socially is vital to future success, exposing students to multiple possibilities that align with their interests and aptitudes is where true career exploration can begin.

Haywood Middle School has developed a multi-tiered strategy that measures students’ interest and aptitude in various career choices, exposes students to high school pathways to that career, and allows students to visit postsecondary and career locations that match their interests and skill sets.

“We have a program at Haywood Middle School called ‘setting students up for success’.  My first year here we used the state’s career exploration tool to see where our students were as far as their career interests,” said HMS Principal Michelle Tillman.  “This year we transitioned to YouScience and every student took the YouScience survey which gives them not only the careers they are interested in pursuing, but also how much aptitude they have for those careers.”

(Read more about what YouScience involves at this link.)

The first step in the program is for students to take the YouScience inventory.  Students take this in the fall, and in January, they visit Haywood High School and are able to see all of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) options that are available.

“The next step in the process is to take all of the eighth grade students to the high school to tour each branch of the CTE program.  They take cards with pictures of each CTE branch and get their favorite three stamped,” Michelle explained.

At this step in the process, Michelle and her team match the students’ top three choices from the CTE trip to their highest aptitude scores on YouScience, and that information determines what postsecondary location the students will visit.

“We took what they stamped, and we matched it with their aptitudes from YouScience which then allowed us to match them with a particular postsecondary visit to a college or TCAT or a culinary school and then a trip to a job site that features their particular career choice,” Michelle said.

On Wednesday, February 16, eighth grade students from HMS will be scattered throughout West Tennessee and be able to see real-life occupational settings that correlate with the students’ career interests and aptitudes.  

“Our kids are going to eight different places: Jackson State, University of Memphis at Lambuth, UT Martin, Union University, Dyersburg State, ROTC at University of Memphis – Memphis, Broadcasting at University of Memphis – Memphis, and Culinary at University of Memphis – Memphis.  In the afternoon, they’ll visit a job site that’s related to their interests and aptitudes,” Michelle explained.

While the experience of visiting job sites and post-secondary settings is both exciting and pertinent, the process doesn’t end there.

“The culminating event to all of this is high school registration which will happen the last week of February.  Having students explore multiple career options allows them to have a very clear idea of the pathway they want to pursue beginning in high school,” Michelle said.

In Haywood County, it’s never too early to begin to explore what options and opportunities await students when they graduate.  The program at HMS is set up perfectly to provide students with successful outcomes.

“I tell my students that they are right on the edge of the arrival of Blue Oval City.  By the time they graduate high school, there will be so many opportunities waiting for them.  That’s why it’s important to start getting a head start on a direction they may want to go,” Michelle said.