TFS® is proud to present a case study on the success of our Career Tree client, York County School of Technology located in York, PA. Over the past year, York Tech has experienced:
- A foundational narrative change about academic-technical education
- The ability to seamlessly meet the new Future Ready PA Index requirements
- A new level of engagement with students and parents
- Unprecedented collaboration between its technical and academic departments
- A fresh focus on going beyond test scores to create well-rounded, problem-solving, career-ready graduates
Creating Effective Career Trees
York Tech introduced the Career Tree to its staff in the fall of 2017. TFS founder Mark Perna delivered a full-day bootcamp on using the Career Tree to increase engagement, enrollment, and retention. Assistant Director Scott Rogers says, “The response from all attendees was overwhelmingly positive and everyone across departments was eager to implement this new strategy and tool.”
Significant research and strategic planning go into the Interactive Wall Graphic creation process. York Tech gave instructors time to draft their Trees and make use of local, regional, state, and national resources. Teachers also met with occupational and business advisory committees for additional input. After this process, York Tech launched its Career Trees across the organization in the spring of 2018.
Meeting the New Future Ready PA Index Requirements
New legislation in Pennsylvania requires that all students demonstrate their career exploration activities in high school through an online portfolio. The Career Tree Root System Career Plan meets all criteria for this element of the portfolio and is being used by every student at York Tech to develop viable education and career plans for when they graduate. Rogers says, “We were thrilled to find that the Career Tree solved this portfolio need for our students so seamlessly. They are getting the planning skills and career direction they need, and York Tech is meeting the new state requirements for our student population.”
Students are responding well to the Career Tree. They appreciate its interactive nature and the recognition they receive by putting their name up on the Wall Graphic for all to see. “They set the goal for themselves, they experience positive accountability, and they’re working alongside their peers to reach their goal,” says Rogers. All teachers, not just technical instructors, are now talking about career development and planning. “Goal-setting is a major skill the Career Tree is helping us teach,” says Rogers. “Teenagers may not understand goal-setting but the Career Tree helps them learn it. The Root System Career Plan helps them put those pieces together.”
True Interdepartmental Collaboration
The Career Tree has fostered unprecedented collaboration between York Tech’s academic and technical teachers and departments. The Social Studies department has integrated interview skills into its curriculum. The Math department is teaching students financial planning, especially as regards their plans for postsecondary education and training pathways. Other departments such as science and business education are also actively teaching the Career Tree’s Professional Skills root in their courses. “Our technical and academic teachers are working together like never before,” says Rogers.
Several academic teachers have shared that they appreciated being included in the Career Tree strategy because they realize that their role is more than just preparing students for exams; it’s about the big picture of helping those students succeed both in the classroom and beyond. Academic teachers have also found that the Career Tree has given them new insights into their students’ interests and talents, allowing them to build deeper connections. This in turn improves students’ performance in academic disciplines.
The New Narrative
“The Career Tree has helped us change the narrative about career-focused education in our community,” says Rogers. “We’re opening the eyes of parents and students to the fact that a York Tech education means you graduate with a map to multiple opportunities. Instead of just seeing a specific set of technical skills the students can attain here, they see the big picture.”
He continues, “The Career Tree has been a positive experience for our entire school community—faculty, students, parents—everyone involved in the education of the child. It’s more than a diploma they’re earning at the end. We’re capitalizing on the high school years. Our students know that this teacher cares about my future and my career, where I’m going to be 5 years, even 10 years from now. That’s how education is going to move students and the economy forward. And the Career Tree is helping us achieve this.”
We want to thank Scott Rogers and York Tech for taking the time to share their Career Tree experience. We believe the strides that York Tech is making can be made at many other organizations nationwide, so that every student graduates truly ready for a bright future.
About Mark C. Perna and TFS
TFS, whose mission is to share and support its clients’ passion for making a difference, is a full-service strategic consulting firm founded by national workforce development expert Mark C. Perna. Mark, a noted author on Generations Y and Z, has many years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies and has devoted his career to education and workforce training. At TFS, Mark heads an energetic team of talented professionals who share his vision of making a bigger difference, working with educators and employers of all sizes nationwide to deliver significant gains in recruitment, retention, and performance rates.
About York County School of Technology
York County School of Technology is a comprehensive high school dedicated to providing high quality, dynamic academic and technical education for students, emphasizing professional skills while fostering the development of compassionate, lifelong learners who appreciate unique differences of other individuals and cultures. With 14 sending districts and a student population of 1680, the school offers 25 technical programs taught by 40 industry-recognized instructors, alongside its academic offerings.