Conference on Integrated Learning: The School-To-Career Connection

The Integrated Learning Conference  (ILC) is the best conference the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) puts on all year. It is my favorite event because all the best teachers bring their best practices (from around the Commonwealth) and share their work. I always return to school with renewed energy and thinking.

I will be presenting on two topics this year: (1) E-Portfolios and (2) Hatboro-Horsham’s Futures Fair. I’m going to post my presentations and handouts so attendees can easily refer to the links and resources provided.

1. Portfolios


A Career Portfolio is the tool your students need—whether they are looking for a job or seeking admission to college. This session will guide you through a step-by-step process of building a targeted collection of documents that provides employers and admissions offices with concrete evidence of what a student has done and presents their potential for the future. Learn how a carefully considered and well-presented portfolio can best validate a student’s skills and accomplishments and be the most effective self-marketing device for a great job and/or college admission. Includes electronic portfolios.

Student E-Portfolio example: Meet Hannah Hatboro *

*Hannah Hatboro is a fictional character. Her portfolio was designed to model similar portfolios created by students in our school.

Hannah Hatboro Resource Handout

2. Futures Fair

BRIEF DESCRIPTION “Making It Here” was the theme of Hatboro-Horsham’s 2011 Futures Fair and reflects the hope of the community that if students are made aware of local educational and career opportunities they’ll stay in the area or return after college to pursue their life paths. A Futures Fair is a hybrid event that connects high priority professions, post-secondary programs and 21st Century Skills to employment opportunity in our region. Learn how our community, school, business stakeholders, education foundation and post-secondary institutions partnered to teach students that they really can “make it here” (prepare for interesting professions that offer opportunity and family sustaining wages in our region).         

Download my PPT presentation to view slide notes.


Futures Fair: “Making It Here” Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Yesterday was our second annual Futures Fair; 2011 theme-“Innovation and Entrepreneurship” (last year we were “Green“).  This year regional school districts sent representatives to check out our event so I’m going to share what this is, how we do it and why we do it.

 “The Futures Fair is an opportunity for students to meet with and talk to adults in our community who are successful because they are creative and innovative thinkers,” said Sue Fox, career education and work curriculum coordinator at Hatboro-Horsham High School, who designed the project. “We want our students to discover exciting new ways to unlock their creative potential and we know that the Futures Fair will add to our school’s environment – one that encourages innovation and allows it to flourish.”

” I was down at the fair and it was a hit! I talked to vendors and I also spoke with students during 4th period. The vendors seemed excited to talk about their craft and the students did talk about viewing different careers as options. One perspective the students appreciated was that those professionals that were there were passionate about what they did for a living. Nice job in presentation and with the chosen people/professions. I think that they were interesting and had a lot to offer.”  -C.M., English Teacher

6ABC WPVI Philadelphia-Futures Fair coverage (video clip)

Bucks County Courier Times: Students get a peak at possible futures by CRISSA SHOEMAKER DEBREE

1. What this is: The Futures Fair is a hybrid event; not quite a career fair and not quite a college fair. The format is popular with students and has impact on both faculty and kids.

Exhibitors use our gym and the area outside of our gym for display. Exhibitors include (1) professionals in their field of work, (2) post-secondary programs of study (PoS), not admissions representatives, reflecting the academic area the professional exhibitors represent and (3) selected high school seniors presenting their graduation projects. Seniors selected have projects that reflect the theme of the fair. Exhibitors are mixed throughout the event and the ratio we strive for is 75-80% professional, 10% PoS and 10% seniors.

2. How we do it: We have and enjoy a collaborative partnership with our local Chamber of Commerce (CoC) and Educational Foundation (EF). The partnership is the secret to our success.

Our EF helped recruit professionals representing regional businesses, maintained our website and processed registrations. They promoted the Futures Fair at all EF functions and dedicated a keynoter to kick off the theme for the year. They also designed the beautiful logo you see at the top of this post as well as other graphics and literature concerning the fair.

Our CoC matched their theme for the year to ours. They focused time each month talking to local business professionals about our project and recruited their support. They also provided tables, table cloths and other resources needed by the exhibitors as well as a contential breakfast during set up time and lunch for all including the entire high school faculty and staff.

The school district provided human resources for recruiting post-secondary programs of study, planning the logistics of the day (with administrators, teachers, cafeteria and transportation departments and our middle school). We also identified the perfect seniors to present at the fair as well as recruited student volunteers to “man” various posts i.e. direct traffic, serve food, etc. We extended invitations to all other school districts in the county (so they could bring their highly interested students) and our own middle school.

3. Why we do this: To connect our students to their future. When planning our themes, we first think about high priority professions in our region and our state. We want our kids to understand what opportunities there will be for them-that they can learn and earn a family sustaining wage here.

In our area the high priority professions identified by Pennsylvania are healthcare, engineering and green technologies. Armed with that knowledge our first fair was Green. For our second fair we chose Making It Here as our working title. We started thinking about what skills allowed people to “make it here.” And that’s when we realized that the 21st Century Skill we associate most with success is innovation. Our president tells us that entrepreneurialism is our nations opportunity for growth and prosperty. For these reasons our second theme became Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Why include middle school students? Because they are making important career decisions–do I like math? Should I take science seriously? If the answer is no to either question it could be a career limiting decision. Students who understand where a subject could take them will do better in high school.

In all, 2000 students and 250 faculty and staff visited the fair. All were able to talk to individuals who make a difference in our world and are passionate about what they do. PoS’s explained to students various ways to prepare for the professions presented. And students taught students that you don’t have to wait to be an innovator. You can start in high school!

*To see student documentary click here. Produced by the Montgomery County Education & Workforce Partnership.

*Next year’s theme? TBD-First suggestion: Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy…