As a high school senior, I had already figured out exactly what I wanted to do in life.
I remember sitting in a small desk in a poorly-lit classroom just about to fall asleep to a teacher’s lecture on commas when it hit me in a flash, “I could do this so much better than the teacher!” After this flash of brilliance, I began mapping out on my paper not the 52 rules of using commas, but a self-made, interactive lesson plan that would get students interested in using commas—well, as interesting as students can get in commas. In any event, it was then and there that I decided teaching was my vocation.
I sailed through college and entered the classroom; it truly was my calling. But it wasn’t for Steve or Julio. It wasn’t for Julie, Chris or any other person I knew. And it isn’t for millions of high school students that have no clue where they are headed, why they are headed anywhere, and what they will do if they ever get anywhere. See, what they didn’t teach me in the college of education when I was becoming a teacher, when I was building classroom units on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (or yes, studying commas), what they didn’t teach me was that kids need motivation to stay in school. Students need to know that there is something beyond the horizon of high school graduation. As an English teacher, I was flavorful. As a teacher of life, I was bland.
Now looking back at that time, if I had the tools and resources that Workforce Solutions provides for the public, I would have not only been a great teacher of literature, but a great teacher of life. Every two years, Workforce Solutions develops a list of occupations unique to the Houston metropolitan region dubbed “High Skills/High Growth.” Essentially, if an occupation makes it through the number crunchers to be added to the list, it becomes part of an elite class of occupations that:
a. Require skills beyond a high school diploma
b. Have at least a full time median wage of $16.08 per hour
c. And, are projected to be in need over the next ten years.
Students, and adults alike, deserve to know that jobs that pay well and are in demand exist, and more importantly that these jobs are within reach. I cannot even calculate how much homeroom time was wasted listening to announcements, passing out papers or talking to students about extra-curricular activities. If I had these precious minutes again, I would work to ensure that students were utilizing the valuable resources connected to the list at the Workforce Solutions website. I would work to ensure that students took online career interest surveys provided by Workforce Solutions. And I would surely make sure that students, parents and the public continue to utilize the several training opportunities for those seeking work.
Schools of Education at higher education institutions don’t generally talk about teaching students. They talk about teaching math, science, English or social studies. For me, we are all students searching for and learning about the next phase of life. To make it easier, solid resources like those provided for job seekers by Workforce Solutions make that search that much easier.
Michael Webster serves as an Industry Liaison to the Education Sector for the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. With over a decade of experience in teaching and staff development, Michael is passionate about ensuring all students achieve an enriching and successful life beyond high school. In his current capacity, he services school districts in developing a strong workforce and in delivering career resources to students and their families.