New program aims to give high school students personalized learning opportunities

Underclassmen and seniors will participate in career exploration and a variety of other programs Wednesday, March 2 while juniors take the ACT.

Steve Shapiro, director of experiential learning and community engagement, said he is working with the administration on this programming.

Shapiro explained that because the juniors will be taking the ACT, he wanted to use this time for students to explore careers and different opportunities, as opposed to previous years when class continued as normal for all other students.

“In the morning, we’ll have two different things happening,” Shapiro explained. “There will be multiple career shadowing experiences, along with Zoom calls with recent graduates from Bexley.”

Career shadowing will happen outside of the building, Shapiro said, while Zoom calls will be held at the high school.

“Students will learn anything from college majoring, getting their first job and navigating early stages of their careers,” he explained.

Shapiro said these Zoom sessions will give students a chance to talk to young adults about navigating and managing a career early after high school.

He added that he is also hoping to use the morning to give students a look at other available opportunities during high school, such as exploring the EastlandFairfield Career Center.

“This will be a way to get a head start on introducing underclassmen to career-expanding opportunities they have,” Shapiro said.

The afternoon will involve a “Senior Takeover,” Shapiro said. He explained that seniors will be able to sign up to lead informational sessions about topics they know a lot about or recruit help from adults outside the school to learn more about a topic that they are interested in.

These sessions could include the viewing and discussion of a documentary, 3D printing and more, he said. All students will be able to sign up for one of these sessions online in order to learn more about a topic of interest, he added.

Seniors Gretchen Sahr and Georgia Booth are planning a yoga and meditation session, focusing on stress relief.

“Taking the time to relax and destress will hopefully be really beneficial to students,” Booth explained.

She added that it will be rewarding to know they helped students manage their stress by leading this session.

Shapiro said that the idea for this day started with a conversation with English teacher Rachel Lilly several years ago.

“She told me about local schools that have had whole days of student-led learning experiences,” he said. “I thought it would be a great thing to do in Bexley.”

However, as Shapiro began planning to integrate this into the high school, it was interrupted by COVID-19. Once school was back in session, he was able to continue planning, he said. He said he hopes this will be a fun and useful day for all students.

“Rather than just do what students would do any other day, why don’t we make this a creative experience and have them learn and teach what they want?” he asked.

Sophomore Sammie Ross said she thinks this day will be a beneficial experience for all students, especially for those who are unsure about the future.

“I think this will be a good opportunity for students who aren’t sure what their career path will be,” Ross said. She added that this day will help her focus on the rest of her time in high school and afterwards by learning about many opportunities that she may not have known about before.

Shapiro explained that his goal for the day is to give students a choice of what they are doing and to control their learning. He added that it will also be an experiment as to what happens when students dictate what they do in a school day.

“They will have much higher satisfaction because they had a say in it,” he said. “I hope this day is so successful that there’s a high demand to do it again.”