What do you do when your school district has been impacted by the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Sandy? Lafayette Parish Schools in Louisiana persevered. The community banded together to overcome the destruction caused by catastrophic floods and, despite major challenges, they provided secondary educators with training on Kuder Navigator® to support their students' career development. The session took place Friday, September 16, 2016; one month to the day after Lafayette Parish was declared a federal disaster area.
Hope floats in Lafayette.
As a field trainer for Kuder, I travel throughout the United States providing training on the effective use and benefits of the Kuder Career Planning System®. The educators who participate in these training sessions always inspire me. They're passionate about helping their students plan for education and careers.
Early on August 11, torrential rain began to fall in the areas surrounding Baton Rouge and Lafayette. On August 12, the flooding began. It was Lafayette’s second day of school and by 6:50 a.m., school was canceled. East Baton Rouge Parish schools closed and announced they wouldn’t open again until September 6th, 25 days after school was originally canceled. John C. White, Louisiana State Superintendent of Schools, announced that at least 22 schools had heavy damage. An estimated 6,000 educational staff had flood damage to their homes.
Lafayette Parish Schools’ staff didn’t return to work until August 18, and students didn’t return to school until August 22. Westside Elementary school flooded and announced it would be closed for the rest of 2016 – 2017 school year. Westside's kindergarten and first grade students were relocated to nearby Scott Middle School. The second through fifth grade students were sent to N.P. Moss Preparatory School (Lafayette’s alternative high school). According to Jennifer Roth, N. P. Moss’s School Counselor, the two schools are functioning separately but flawlessly within the same campus.
My hope was that, after everything they had just endured personally and professionally, participants would find learning about the benefits and uses of Navigator worth their time and effort.
Dr. Spencer Niles, who leads Kuder’s research faculty, has taught me a lot about the importance of hope in career development. So as I started the session in Lafayette, I asked the participants what they wanted to learn. I was happy to discover that hope was central to how they addressed issues facing their students’ career development. The 64 educators in attendance were optimistic about their students’ futures and about the future of Louisiana.
As we progressed through the day, it became clear that Navigator was going to be implemented in every Lafayette secondary school and that students would be given the opportunities they needed to become self-aware, learn about the world of work, plan for education, and set postsecondary goals.
The future was the focus of the day.
Traci Aucoin, Lafayette’s Project GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) director, said she is planning to involve parents and wants to schedule a parents’ night sometime this upcoming spring semester. Traci said she believes that Navigator is a resource that should be utilized by every student in Lafayette. Pauline Duplantis, Lafayette’s student services coordinator, and her staff said they are determined to make that happen. Plans are underway for every student to create education plans that are informed by their Kuder assessment results. And in the future, Navigator will be incorporated throughout the Lafayette Schools’ secondary academic curriculum.
It was an inspiring day spent with enthusiastic, dedicated educators. Did I mention it was raining?
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