LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - In an effort to prepare students for life after receiving their high school diploma, educators in the Laurel School District are exposing them to careers and college early on.
“College and career readiness is important to introduce at the young ages, because they need to know why they are in school," said Laurel School District superintendent Toy Watts. It’s all because it’s funneling into their futures."
Over the summer, principal Tito Lanier transformed the inside of his school into a college campus naming the halls after departments that one would see at a university or college such as College of Liberal Arts to College of Human Performance.
“So, our initial goal was to develop colleges and these colleges are designed to change the perspective of students, so that they will want to go to college, so they’ll begin to see things in a different light," said Lanier.
Amiyah White is one of many students at Laurel Middle School learning in a college-like environment. At 14-years-old, White takes classes in the College of Liberal Arts that will help well beyond the doors of Laurel Middle School.
“The setting of the school really helps me to be able to get a feel of what college will look like," she said. “When I graduate high school, I would like to pursue a career in art as well as being an entrepreneur and that’s one of my main goals.”
The district isn’t forgetting the small kiddos either. Students at Nora Davis Magnet School get a chance to explore colleges and careers of their choice by dressing up on the first Friday of each month.
“I think it gives them hope," said Nora Magnet Davis Magnet School principal Kiana Pendleton. "They have something to look forward to, because everything we do is aligned with to, of course, the Mississippi Department of Education’s College and Career Readiness standard requirements. So, we just wanted to piggy back off of that and serve as a reminder that you can anything you want to be when you grow up.”
Watts says they are also revamping the district’s career and technical education program to fit the needs of students.
“We’re changing some of those programs," she said. “We’re not keeping what we always had. Instead, we’ve decided to look at what we have here in town and we’re planning our programs for that. We’ve also partnered with some of our businesses in town where our students have work programs where some of them are doing internships and work just so that they are always aware that everything they are doing is leading to future employment even if that means they have to stop in between to go to college, because some will leave and go directly to full-time employment.”