NOTE: This article that highlights The Chamber's Success School was published in the October/November, 2022 issue of Bloom Magazine by Barb Berggoetz.
Choosing a career isn’t always on the radar of middle school students. But the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is trying to kick-start them into thinking about the possibilities with its Tour of Opportunity program.
“It’s a way to plant the seed and start the conversation about what they might want to do in the future,” says Katie Sensabaugh, director of Success School, which operates the program giving students real-world experiences at local workplaces.
“We have done virtual tours for the last two years, but this is the first time we are doing in-person tours,” Sensabaugh says. Groups of about 50 seventh- and eighth-graders visit two or three businesses in one day to talk with professionals and learn about careers.
Tour of Opportunity is just one of many activities of Success School, designed to create partnerships between businesses and the community to better education. As part of The Chamber Foundation, Success School provides K–12 students in Monroe County with opportunities to interact with professionals in different fields, practice interviewing skills, shadow people during their workday, and explore careers.
More than 1,700 students in elementary, middle, and high schools participate in these programs annually.
Edgewood Middle School students had their Tour of Opportunity in September and Sensabaugh is planning to bring the program to Monroe County Community School Corporation middle schools in the near future. She hopes eight to 10 businesses or organizations will provide tours.
Another unique program offered for many years in middle schools is the Reality Store, a real-life simulation during which students pretend to be 28-year-old professionals. And in November, the Life Sciences and STEM Career Fair is conducted at Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington. High school science teachers can bring their classes to the one-day fair to learn about job opportunities and have hands-on experiences.
For more information or to participate, businesses can fill out volunteer forms at chamberbloomington.org or contact Sensabaugh at 812-336-6381.
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