To celebrate work-based learning (WBL) in New Hampshire, the National Governors Association, the Community College System of New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire Department of Education hosted an event on October 1, 2019, to recognize work-based learning “champions” around the state. VLACS’ Program Manager and ELO Coordinator, Julie Reece, received the Advisor/Coordinator Champion Award for her excellence in WBL!
Reece began her journey at VLACS back in 2011 teaching Chinese courses. A few years later she was approached with a unique opportunity to help VLACS introduce new learning opportunities for students, known as Projects and Experiences. Creating the project journey was VLACS’ initiative to help fulfill a new mission; help students become college and career-ready by exposing them to different jobs through WBL. Reece started writing projects for her Chinese courses and instantly adapted to the role. As projects became more established in the VLACS curriculum, Julie was offered the position of Program Manager for the Project and Experience Learning Journeys. Part of Reece’s responsibilities is to provide the framework, curriculum, day-to-day management, and teacher support to make these learning journeys successful for students. “I love to solve problems and challenges and this is constantly a big puzzle that I love to solve,” said Reece.
Projects & Experiences
Projects allow students to complete academic competencies at home by envisioning themselves as a professional working in a career. The project approach empowers students to conduct in-depth research and application to solve problems or carry out the tasks a person in that profession might do on the job. Reece and her team have created 227 different projects for middle and high school students to begin gaining exposure to careers. The goal of projects is to spark students’ interest in specific areas so that they can take the next step towards exploring careers, through Experiences.
Experiences are extended learning opportunities that enable students to gain hands-on experience through workplace activities such as internships, job shadows, and informational interviews. Students are guided through their experience by VLACS instructors who are certified experts in the area of study. Instructors motivate students to identify different ways that they can complete competencies while doing things that are interesting and useful to them. Reece oversees the process of approving place-based learning activities to ensure that students are safely working with outside experts in the field.
Reece’s Champion Award was granted to her for her accomplishments related to work-based learning in the state of NH. Reece says she believes her biggest accomplishments are any time a student forms a connection to their experience and continues on that path after their time at VLACS.
Reece recalls a particular time when a student came to her with a passion for auto detailing. She worked with the student to explore different careers in the auto industry that might spark his interest. After completing the VLACS experience journey, the student realized he actually wanted to become a mechanic and work on luxury cars. After graduating from VLACS, he landed himself a job as an auto mechanic at Audi. “I just love the idea of helping students see the connection between what they are learning to what the possibilities are out there. We all hear, ‘when am I ever going to use this in real life’ and it is really great to help students see that,” she explained.
Reece is one of twenty recipients receiving the work-based learning champion award for strengthening the workforce in NH through WBL. The NH Department of Education Commissioner, Frank Edelblut, details the importance of these individuals who have enabled students to learn the critical skills that are acquired solely in the workplace setting. During his introduction at the award ceremony, Edelblut explained, “If we want students to acquire knowledge, one of the best ways to do that is to put knowledge into context in a practical setting.” The best way to do this, Edelblut says, is to continue to offer these opportunities to students.
Congratulations to Julie and all of the work-based learning champion award recipients! To find out more about Work-Based Learning in NH, visit https://workbasedlearningnh.org.