Eddy says time to think about future is now


Career development is a theme that Baldwin public schools and Jean Eddy’s new book share.

District Superintendent Shari Camhi noticed clear similarities between classes that Baldwin schools offer and Eddy’s book, “Crisis-Proofing Today’s Learners: Reimagining Career Education to Prepare Kids for Tomorrow’s World,” which was released in October. The book explores how today’s students are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis when it comes to preparing for careers, and according to Eddy, it is up to many segments of society — educators, policy-makers, parents, corporations and nonprofit organizations — to work together to help students discover careers that are right for them. Camhi wants to do just that in Baldwin schools.

“She and I are totally in sync about what we need to offer students,” Eddy said of Camhi. “And I wish that we can take Baldwin and basically put that out there as a model for what other people should be doing.”

Eddy, a writer who met Camhi a few years ago and learned about the Baldwin school district, said that the programs in Baldwin are “future-focused,” and centered on building skills and career exploration. She noted that these courses have proved to be beneficial for students: The district’s diverse student body has a 97 percent graduation rate, along with what Eddy described as “top-tier Advanced Placement course participation and Regents scores.” Many classes across grade levels focus on incorporating modern-day workforce skills.

“We have an academy program that starts in grade eight,” Camhi said. “We have seven academies, which are education, STEM, global business, government, law, media, and fine and performing arts.”

According to Camhi, each of the academies has “rigorous coursework, internships, shadow days, exhibitions, and competitions.” With this varied structure, the hope, she said, is to provide students with a view of “the real world.”

In addition to the academies, elementary school students run a bakery where they turn math skills into financial literacy. Students at the high school students can take college courses, and there is also a trade school, at which students can learn about barbering, medical administration, and criminal justice.

Eddy’s book, published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, explains that society, as a whole, is not doing the best job of preparing students for the many careers that are available to them. She makes suggestions on how to change this, including implementing more hybrid education, discussing career exploration with younger children, and helping them discover the things they’re good at.

“I think it’s important for students to learn at a young age what careers they can pursue, because we don’t know what careers are going to be available when they grow up,” Camhi said. “And in large part, we need to make sure that we’re giving them the skills necessary to be in whatever career they choose to be in.”

Camhi said that Baldwin is doing this by focusing on the “six C’s”: critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, citizenship, and civics. She said she believes those skills are critical to any career path.

“We have an initiative here called Baldwin 2035,” Camhi said. “So our kindergartners from last year — our current first-graders — will graduate high school in the year 2035, and I don’t think we can predict what the future will look like, but we can certainly give kids the experience of what certain careers feel like.”

Camhi went on to say that Eddy and her book are “right on track,” and that presenting career options as part of a larger narrative about learning and schools is “exactly what we should be talking about.”

“In the end, we all end up in a career or a job, so why wouldn’t the experiences that we have in school have some sort of relationship with that?” Camhi asked. “I think that Eddy’s book, and her thinking, has everything to do with that.”

Eddy doesn’t have any other books in the works, but she said she planned to focus on “engaging with employers to help them help us figure out what’s next for our kids.”

For more information on Jean Eddy's book, visit https://www.asa.org/jean-eddys-book/

For more information on the Baldwin school district, visit https://www.baldwinschools.org/