Pilot program helps engage Grade 9 students

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HALIFAX – Grade 9 students will have more help as they move into high school through a new program that helps them make the connection between learning and work opportunities.

As part of an update on the Kids and Learning education plan, Education Minister Ramona Jennex announced Tuesday, that the Discovering Opportunities program will begin at three schools during the 2013-14 academic year.

Jennex also announced that a review of Grade 9 will be completed this year. The goal is to improve the important transition year by examining what students are being taught, how they are being taught and how to strengthen the link between what is being taught and the community and workplace.

"Grade 9 is a critical year for making decisions about the future," said Jennex. "We need to be sure we are preparing these students to succeed. We also must keep students involved and interested during this transition year, but that can be a challenge for some of our young people."

Discovering Opportunities follows the commitment to link learning to the workplace.

"Since we released Kids and Learning First, parents, teachers and families have told us what's working for them, and we are building on those successes," Jennex said. "Discovering Opportunities is one way to address students who are faltering in junior high.

"Under the program, students will believe they can succeed and make up any lost learning, while developing skills employers are looking for."

Building on the success of Options and Opportunities (O2)already available at the high school level, Discovering Opportunities takes a flexible, team-centred approach to learning and provides students with real work skills and experiences in their communities.

Discovering Opportunities is built on partnerships with local businesses, which help students gain job-related skills, post-secondary institutions and community groups.

"We offer students a chance to learn about customer service, hospitality and skilled trades," said Carol Logan, director of human resources for the Prince George Hotel, which participates in the O2 program. "Students are able to experience a broad range of job skills in one hotel facility. We appreciate the chance to give students valuable work experience and help train the workforce of the future."


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