Thanks to the community, Novak Academy students get a look into their future careers

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 11:19am

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we are asked from an early age, but the answer isn’t always an easy one. Thanks to a grant from the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation (CUSF), many students at Novak Academy will have some help answering that question. 

“We are excited about how this experience will help them see a different side of themselves while helping them dream big,” said Michel Maroon, the Alternative Learning Opportunities Program Specialist at Novak Academy. 

Maroon was awarded a $2,500 grant from CUSF. It was part of the $60,000 CUSF awarded to 112 teachers in Unit 4 and Urbana District 116. Maroon is using the money to bring in a Professional Career Advisor who will give almost every student at Novak the “Strong Interest Inventory Assessment.” It’s something that wouldn’t be possible without the grant money.  

“Students at Novak sometimes feel that because the start to their high school experience was not all they had hoped it would be, that somehow they aren't worthy of a good career or that they might not have a lot of people interested in helping them,” Maroon said. “We are excited about how this experience will help them see a different side of themselves."

Maroon is in her 7th year at Novak Academy. She applied for the grant in the hopes of jumpstarting the excitement her students have when looking into their future. “Without dreams, realistic goals, and thoughts about the future, we all can get stuck in a negative cycle of a fixed mindset,” Maroon said. “If we believe we can't do something, we're likely not going to try it.  By having a growth mindset, ‘I can't do it YET’ we are encouraging those students to realize that even though you may not have accomplished what you wanted to at the beginning of high school, it doesn't mean there isn't hope for the future.” 

Here’s how it works. The Strong Interest Inventory walks the student through various steps and scales to help them identify which potential occupations may be of interest to them. Ultimately, it is up to the student to decide their career path and goals, but the assessment will outline their top five interest areas along with the top 10 occupations that most closely align with those interests. The report also provides scores for 120 other occupations based on their interest level and how they completed the inventory. This information along with personal style information the assessment provides, allows the student to take a closer look at what occupations, careers, and work environments may be of most interest to them. The occupations range from teacher, counselor and community service director, to chef, EMT, firefighter, marketing manager, dietician, optometrist and many more. 

“They should be proud of who they are as a person and see how they can use their talents, interests, and desires to build a career they enjoy,” said Maroon.

Once all of the students receive the results from their assessment, career speakers will be brought in that correspond to the results the students received. These speakers will give the students an even deeper understanding of their day to day work.

Pictured above from left to right: Novak Student, Rayshaun Green; Novak Student, Taylin Herman; Alt. Learning Program Specialist at Novak, Michel Maroon; Novak Studennt, Kseniya Didenko; Superintendent, Dr. Susan Zola