The Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) exists to promote and protect the well-being of Montana’s workers, employers, and citizens, and to uphold their rights and responsibilities. DLI has a statewide project to help engage pre-K through elementary school students in career awareness in local communities across the state. Research shows that the earlier children are introduced to careers the better prepared they are to set their secondary and post-secondary plans. The ages of pre-K to 3rd grade are critical in helping students understand the connection between school and life after school. By the third grade, students can become disengaged with particular subjects that they feel are of no use to their future self. Connecting awareness of the variety of careers with the subjects they need to master for those careers is an important aspect of student engagement. There is currently no other curriculum other than this DLI course available to help this age group with career awareness. Currently most career development starts at the 8th grade, too late for adequate planning on which courses to take in high school in order to be prepared for post-secondary options.
As the current AmeriCorps Leader, Gabe Anderson helps expand career awareness in Pre-K to third grade students in a fun and engaging way, connecting them with their local community’s employers and workers. He also develops training tools (powerpoints, handouts, materials etc.) and provides technical assistance to elementary schools and community-based organizations on how to implement the “I Can Be” and “Careers Build a Community” curriculum.
Specific focus is on schools with predominately free and reduced lunch and first generation students.
The final activity of the curriculum is a community day where students will share what they’ve learned about the careers in their community with people in their community and school. In addition to setting up the community day, Gabe will collect data on the curriculum and resources and provide feedback to the Montana Career Lab (MT Dept of Labor host).