Springfield City Schools ask students to 'Tell Us Your E'

The Springfield City School District wants to help every high school senior not only graduate with a diploma, but also with a plan for what comes next.

That is the goal of a district-wide initiative that began this year called “Tell Us Your E,” which helps students choose one of three pathways that best fit their goals: Enrolling in college, Enlisting in the military, or Employment at a business.

“That’s one thing I love about this: We’re not telling you what you have to do,” says Ron Gordon, the school district’s director of community initiatives.

The initiative will help students figure out their future while also connecting them to colleges, jobs and military branches that are suited to their interests and abilities. That includes opportunities in and near Clark County, Gordon says.

“There’s so many more opportunities in our county and our area that students can take advantage of,” he says.

Tell Us Your E starts even in elementary school, with grade-appropriate content, posters and curriculum tie-ins that talk about possible careers.

Middle and high school students will complete a career assessment tool in order to better understand their interests as well as their aptitudes. These assessments also offer guidance regarding colleges and universities that offer programs and employers in the area that seek workers in those fields, he says.

Educators also seek to introduce local students to a variety of opportunities in Clark County and beyond that often aren’t in the spotlight, Gordon says. For example, students interested in the health care field certainly know they could become a doctor or nurse, but do they know about openings as X-ray technicians, stenographers or phlebotomists?

“It’s really expanding the horizons,” he says.

Those following a pathway to higher education can learn more about local college programs, trade schools and certifications. Students who want to enlist can be exposed not only to multiple branches of the military, but also to possible careers following their service.

“It’s not just joining the military and serving your time, but the direction you want to go,” Gordon says.

He hopes that high school freshmen will have a sense of their pathway, but it doesn’t have to be set in stone.

“No one is going to lock you into a career your freshman year of high school,” he says.

By choosing a pathway early, however, students can work toward their goals even sooner, by earning certifications, internships or college credit while in high school.

“Generally if we can have them on a path no later than sophomore year, I would be ecstatic about that,” he says.

Employers, too, are excited. Now, instead of speaking to a wide swath of students who may or may not be interested in what they offer, employers can focus on discussions with students who show interest and strength in their specific field.

“We are being more strategic with those conversations and how we’re trying to deliver them,” Gordon says.

The Tell Us Your E initiative kicked off in the spring and included a short survey to Springfield High School seniors asking if they had plans for after graduation. Out of the approximately 350 students in the graduating class, about 50 responded.

Gordon understood that to mean that not everyone had plans or wanted to share them. Some of the students who had already chosen their pathway also took part in a video announcing their E.

Jenna Leinasars, a communications specialist with Springfield City Schools, says students who participated in the video skewed toward enrolling in higher education as their E, but in reality the number of students who are college bound doesn’t far outstrip those who seek employment after graduation.

Some students think that they can be celebrated only by choosing a college, but the school district is “trying to change that narrative,” she says. All deserve to be celebrated for deciding what comes next after high school.

“We want to uplift you for choosing an E,” Leinasars says.
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Read more articles by Diane Erwin.

Diane Erwin is a freelance writer and former reporter for the Springfield News-Sun. A graduate of Ohio State University, her articles have appeared in a number of publications in Springfield and Dayton. In addition to her journalism background, she has worked in marketing and written copy for businesses throughout the country. In her spare time, she likes to read, dream about Schuler’s donuts, and travel near and far with her husband and two children.