State program would have adult volunteers talk about careers, education with students

jwarren@herald-leader.comAugust 18, 2011 

NICHOLASVILLE — Every eighth-, ninth- and 10th-grader in Kentucky would get a chance to consult with an adult next year about career goals and the education courses needed to reach them under a plan announced here Wednesday.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said Operation Preparation is intended to reach about 150,000 students statewide from March 12 to 16 next year.

Holliday said the idea grew out of his "exasperation with the lack of parent engagement" in the education of many children, plus the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's interest in doing something to help.

Help would be provided to get students into the kinds of classes they should be taking to help them reach their life goals, Holliday said. The effort would require large numbers of adult volunteers across Kentucky, who would be willing to meet and talk with students.

"We're going to need volunteers from universities and chambers, from workforce investment boards and higher education, from the General Assembly," he said.

Holliday unveiled the proposal Wednesday morning, during a meeting at the Jessamine Career and Technology Center for the national release of ACT test results for the graduating class of 2011. The Jessamine Public Schools operate the technology center.

Holliday wants to provide a "one-on-one meeting" between an adult and each student to "go over their career and college aspirations. If there's a mismatch between the courses they're taking and what they need to be taking, we need to tell them."

After the meetings, each child would take a letter home to his or her parents, advising them to check their child's individual learning plan online. Kentucky has an individual learning plan for each child in public school starting in sixth grade.

Lisa Gross, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said many details of the project are to be worked out, such as how volunteers for the project would be trained.

Holliday said he envisioned an online volunteer training course that might take as little as 20 minutes.

Reach Jim Warren at (859) 231-3255.

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