Employers are looking for job candidates with soft skills, integrity, knowledge, and experience. Why do soft skills matter? As the use of technology continues to accelerate in the workplace, people with soft skills and good character are becoming sought after by employers. Social skills, the ability to work on diverse teams, and creativity are becoming differentiating attributes for job applicants. A long-term goal for K-64 is to assist Catawba County Schools, Hickory Public Schools, and Newton-Conover City Schools with the implementation of character education programs in every elementary school. We need students to become ethical employees and citizens, and character education programs are one factor that contributes to this desired outcome.
Elementary Character Education Programs
K-64 has provided funding to pilot character education programs as well as a screening tool for social and emotional learning in four elementary schools during the 2018-2019 school year. On October 17, 2018, K-64 issued the Character in Catawba Challenge to all three local school districts. Each school in Catawba County was challenged to make one post on Facebook and/or Twitter that highlighted what their school was doing for character education. The Character in Catawba Challenge enabled the schools to share ideas and strategies with each other through social media.
Career and College Promise Soft Skills and Work-based Learning Course
K-64 staff have implemented a new Work-Based Learning course (WBL-120) for high school and college students. The course provides students with the opportunity to learn about workplace soft skills and gain experience through internships at local businesses. These work-based learning experiences may lead to future employment opportunities for many students. High school students receive both high school and college credit for the course.
High School Juniors Student Leadership Program
In partnership with the Catawba Valley Community College Office of Multicultural Affairs, K-64 is conducting a Student Leadership Program for high school juniors. Through this leadership program, the students are engaging in community service, activities focused on financial literacy and workplace soft skills, and leadership training. Each student in the program will be paired with a community mentor that will serve as a role model and advisor.
K-64 has partnered with the Scouts to implement an Exploring Program that will expose high school students to careers in the medical field as well as the higher education opportunities at CVCC and Lenoir-Rhyne University. This program meets once a month at CVCC and the students hear presentations from a variety of local guest speakers.
Through K-64, Catawba County is differentiating itself as a leader in character education. We are intentionally working together as a community to embed character education into the fabric of our three school systems and higher education curriculum and programs to ensure our workforce is equipped with vital soft skills.
Written by Ryan McCreary, Ed.D.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.