Providing Students Real-World Experiences

When students enter the workforce after college, many of them are not as prepared as they think they are. In fact, a study from the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that, while roughly 70 percent of college students assume they have the critical thinking skills they need to be successful in their careers, employers’ responses showed that less than one-third of these graduates are actually equipped for the real world.

In an article they wrote for Forbes, Dean of the New York Institute of Technology Office of Career Services John Hyde and his assistant, Amy Bravo, stressed that colleges should be more responsible for helping to ensure that students are aptly developed enough in terms of career readiness to secure long-term employment in an increasingly competitive market. However, some high schools are taking the initiative to help students properly prepare for the real-world opportunities ahead of them.

Fairmont Preparatory Academy marketing teacher Sara Brown, who worked in the corporate setting for eight years, makes extra efforts to bring in guest speakers and create assignments that resemble actual workforce scenarios in hopes that her students will remember the activities and information presented by the speakers because of the increased levels of interest these situations create.

“They’re going to retain the information from the memories that they get—working with their partners and teammates and learning from other people,” Ms. Brown said. “I know from personal experience what they’re going to need, and I try my best to take the textbook and make it as fun and engaging and as real as I can.”

The strategy seems to be working and helping Fairmont Prep marketing students further ready themselves for college and their future careers. Sophomore Alessandro Furlong said that he has gained insight into how the corporate world works, which not only increases the likelihood that he will not be surprised by the expectations and standards in any future jobs he obtains but also has allowed him to have in-depth conversations with his father and his own business.

“I’m able to have discussions with him and understand more about his business, and I see him as who I want to be in the future,” Furlong said.

Ms. Brown also encourages her students to apply for internships, especially between their sophomore and junior years of high school, when they often have more availability. Taking part in these WHAT furthers students’ real-world experiences and helps them get better pictures of what to expect once they do enter the workforce.

“Having internships opens their eyes and helps them to connect the dots to what they learned in the classroom,” Ms. Brown said. “Maybe some of that business terminology comes up in meetings that they’re in or some of the things they learn in the class or from the projects they’ve done are reflected in what they’re doing in those internships.”

Hyde and Bravo also emphasize the need for college-level curricula to “better simulate real-world working conditions,” another concern that is already being addressed at the high school level in Fairmont Prep’s marketing class.

“It provides another example to how what we’re learning can be seen in the real world and how we’re going to see it again in our future,” sophomore Bikram Sawhney said. “it gives us an opportunity to try out something now, when we may have less risk, as to seeing it in our future, when it may be more impactful.”

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Shelby Wagner - 1st Grade Teacher Fairmont Historic AnaheimTop Teacher & Skating Champion
Shelby “My favorite part of being a teacher is the children I get to teach.”
  • Is one of the head teachers for the Fountain Valley Artistic Skating Club, teaching regional and national champions. She also teaches beginner classes every Saturday morning.
  • Every year, her students are amazed to find that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom.
“I love feeling like I’m part of a family [at Fairmont].”
Keira Kamath - 5th Grade Fairmont Anaheim HillsScience & Tennis Superstar
keira “I like how there are so many different specialty classes at Fairmont Anaheim Hills, like art, music, PE, science lab, computer lab, and Spanish.”
  • She would like to be a professional tennis player when she grows up, or maybe a doctor.
  • Loves dance and plays the piano
  • Her favorite class is science “because you get to figure out stuff, and I like to do experiments.”
Nicholas Aghaian - 7th Grade Fairmont Historic AnaheimKicking His Way to Med School
nicolas“The teachers and the amount of support they provide to not only me, but to the whole entire community here at Fairmont is probably what I like most about attending Fairmont Historic Anaheim.”
  • He would like to be a professional soccer player, or a doctor specializing in the field of sports medicine.
  • Enjoys basketball, piano, and soccer pitch.
  • His favorite subject is math “because I like to be challenged, and math is full of challenges.”
Gianluca De Gregoris – 2nd Grade Fairmont North TustinDancing Toward Greatness
dancing"What I like most about Fairmont is that I get to learn and meet new friends.”
  • He wants to be a professional dancer when he grows up.
  • Is trained in ballet and ballroom dancing.
  • Loves writing and creating new stories.
Nicole Heyman - Kindergarten Teacher Fairmont Anaheim HillsLaying a Foundation for Lifelong Learning
Nicole "The best part about teaching at Fairmont is being able to work with a diverse group of students who are all incredibly talented. It is amazing to be able to challenge students at such a young age and watch these children grow throughout the year.”
  • Loves camping, reading, and traveling
  • Her students love learning random things about her – like the fact that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be Spiderman when she grew up.
  • Her proudest moments are the times when a student on campus is excited to see her, oftentimes telling her that she’s “the best teacher in the world.” “I live for those moments.”
“I choose to teach at Fairmont because of the sense of community, as well as the drive for our students to succeed.”
DJ Clovis - Music Teacher Fairmont North TustinRunning to the Rhythm
DJ Clovis “I get to work with amazing staff, faculty, parents, and most importantly, students!”
  • Teaches music to all grades — from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Coaches (or has coached) football, basketball, and Run Club
  • Plays bass trombone
  • NJHS Conflict Resolution Coach
  • He has run 15 marathons and 4 ultra marathons.
“The best part of teaching at Fairmont is the autonomy — being able to create a program that fits all of my students. At Fairmont North Tustin, I get to help with a lot of different activities.”