The Real World: AHS and Job Shadows

The Real World: AHS and Job Shadows

Imagine a system of education where students gained hands on, real world experience, while also challenging themselves academically. In this holy grail of teaching models, kids would learn outside the classroom. They would explore what it really means to work, and more importantly, live.

This model is what school administrators had in mind when they assigned the class of 2013 a three-hour-long job-shadow. But let’s back up a few years.

Fifteen years ago, Ashland High School was going through a nearly identical process. Current AHS principle Michelle Zundel, who was assistant principle at the time, remembers that students had to complete a job-shadow as part of their graduation requirements. At that same time, Zundel was traveling across the country, looking at different approaches to hands-on education. She was especially interested in “Big Picture Schools”. These schools, which can be found across the country, require all students to participate in an internship. While visiting these schools, Zundel was especially impressed by how involved students were in their communities. They were becoming leaders while still in High School.

Fast forward to today. The job-shadow requirement of yesteryear disappeared long ago. However, Zundel’s experiences in Big Picture Schools inspired her to bring the program back. This year, all Juniors are required to complete the job shadow, along with a page-long summary, by April 4.

“We value learning that happens outside of school. Real work is beneficial,” Zundel expressed. “There are very few places where you can design your own curriculum. A job shadow allows you to do that.”

For students who are struggling over where to start, a good place might be the counseling office. There, one can find a list of businesses looking for interns and job shadowers. Every advisor also carries a similar list of companies who have previously inquired at AHS.

Through a job shadow, students can look deeper into careers of interest. And who really knows what else will come of it? A job shadow could lead to a richer understanding of life after high school, a long-term internship, or even an idea for a senior project.