In the middle of January, all seventh and eighth-grade students participated in Step into Your Future at Georgia.
The purpose of this program is to engage our middle school students to begin discussing their futures in high school and beyond. These discussions give students information about how the choices people make expand or restrict future opportunities. Students explore the relationship between credentials and earning potential. They think about the relationship between their interests, abilities, talents, and their future work. They also learn strategies for facing challenging situations as they navigate their education. The discussions support the concept that education takes many forms, but it is ultimately up to the individual to deliberately set goals and follow through.
The discussions occur over four days during our Opportunity Time in small groups of students with an adult discussion leader. Each adult leader is provided with comprehensive lesson plans designed to encourage dialogue.
The seventh-grade lessons are designed as a foundation for mature decision making and include the following topics: role models and goal setting, developing self-knowledge, understanding human behaviors, coping strategies for the demands of high school, and planning for the future.
The eighth-grade lessons have practical information about the value of levels of an education: earnings based on education levels, information on high school dropouts in our state, alternative programs in high schools, different types of education, high school graduation requirements and college admissions information and self advocacy strategies.
For GEMS students there is a culminating seminar where eighth grade students get to listen to a panel of high school seniors who were former GEMS students attending area high schools. These students take questions from the audience and share their experiences about choices that are made during high school and how those choices can impact their future. They reassure the eighth graders that although high school seems scary and it’s such a big change, it ends up being okay.
Feedback from past Step Into Your Future weeks has proven that this session helps relieve some of the anxiety about this big transition to high school. Our intention is to engage all of our students in a serious discussion about the next phase of their education to help them step into their future with more confidence and knowledge.