Main Content

Transition & Career Planning Conference 2024

Uncovering Curiosity: Learning for the Long Game

As skilled navigators, we strive to place the learner at the center of every interaction, every plan, every opportunity, and every lesson.

Who should attend?
   • School counselors 
   • College career advisors
   • Teachers
   • Technical center coordinators 
   • Administrators 
   • Agency professionals working in schools 
   • School-to-work professionals 
   • High school special educators 
   • Vocational rehabilitation counselors
   • Enthusiastic merchants of hope

Thank you for your interest in the conference. Pre-registration is closed, but day of event walk-ins are welcome and can register onsite, 8:00-8:30am. The cost to attend this year's event is $50 payable by credit/debit card or PayPal when registering.

This year's conference "Uncovering Curiosity: Learning for the Long Game" will feature Erik Shonstrom, a faculty member at Champlain College and author of Wild Curiosity, as our keynote speaker. Join school, agency, career, and post-secondary colleagues to learn and share as we discover the curiosity within to propel us forward with authenticity and intention. Together we will explore our individual and collective curiosity, and how we can help our learners peel back the layers of their authentic curious selves to reveal their goals and pathways. 

 

Thank you to our presenters, partners, and committee members for making this conference possible.

Partners
   • VSAC GEAR UP Program
   • HireAbility VT
   • The Vermont Agency of Education
   • The J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation

Committee Members
   • Erica Borthwick, VSAC
   • Kara Haynes, HireAbility VT
   • Anita Long, VSAC GEAR UP
   • Toni Marra, VT AOE
   • Cathy Printon, VSAC GEAR UP, Committee Chair
   • Jessica Smith, VSAC GEAR UP
   • Anna Telensky, VSAC GEAR UP

Friday, May 17, 8:00am – 3:00pm

Registration & Networking 8:00am – 8:30am

 8:30-8:45Welcome and Opening
 8:45-9:30Keynote with Erik Shonstrom
 9:40-10:55Session I workshops
 11:05-11:50Networking Lunch
 12:00-1:15Session II workshops
 1:25-2:40Session III workshops
  2:50-3:00Closing and Door Prizes

 

Keynote Presentation (8:45-9:30)

Uncovering Curiosity: Learning for the Long Game

What does it mean to learn? We hear the word and think of children seated at desks, raising an eager hand. And yet curiosity, personality, personal history and purpose are just a few of the many ingredients that make up learning moments.

Why is it only young people who 'get' to learn? And why at a desk? And what are they learning, anyway? Learning - real learning, the kind that brings about a tectonic shift in personal paradigm - is a highly individualistic enterprise.

Once we know ourselves as learners, and we move "confidently in the direction of our dreams" as Thoreau would have it, we change the very world we walk through by augmenting our perception. Learning in this way, bolstered by self-knowledge, is a radical move. Once begun, we're never the same!


ABOUT THE PRESENTER:

Erik Shonstrom grew up in Vermont, received a Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College, and is an Associate Professor of Writing at Champlain College. He has been lucky enough to work in education for almost two decades. Originally, Erik was an outdoor educator and wilderness guide, leading trips for Outward Bound and schools all over the US - the Everglades, the High Sierra, Mexico, Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park and the San Juan Islands.

Erik's work in local Vermont journalism led him to study writing, and now his greatest joy is working with students at Champlain College to tell their own stories. He is the author of Wild Curiosity and has been featured in the article "Why You Should Reignite Curiosity At Work, And How To Do It." Forbes Magazine Jan 2016.

Session 1 Workshops (9:40-10:55)

Drawing Stars- A "Math Through Art" Experience

AUDIENCE FOCUS: All Audiences

After a brief description of what “Math Through Art” is and how it came to be, we will dive into a series of hands-on exercises. Participants will draw, following directions that build in complexity, from lessons designed for early elementary, to upper elementary, to a middle/high school lesson. We will leave 15 minutes for questions, a discussion about the experience, and a short slideshow to share images of MTA in action.

Participants will learn by doing that MTA speaks to students at many levels of their being, that it fosters a sense of inner coherence using both right and left brain simultaneously, and that it can reveal the beauty and relevance of math and the way it relates to nature and other areas of study.

Presenters: Nancy Benerofe, Creator and Teacher, Math Through Art; Miriam Novotny, Executive Coach, Blue Hour Consulting


DREAM Guided Mentoring: Learning Through Relationships

AUDIENCE FOCUS: All Audiences

This workshop will introduce attendees to DREAM’s two-tiered approach to cross-age mentoring which fosters relationships between high school and elementary-aged youth throughout Vermont and the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire.

Current high school mentors will share how the DREAM experience, guided by the Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework, has helped them:

  • deepen their understanding of their authentic self,
  • develop their abilities to collaborate creatively and lead fun and engaging experiences for mentees, and
  • to hold a special place in the lives of mentees through influence and example.

Presenters: Joy Clancy, Director of HS Programs, The DREAM Program; Christopher Ouellette, Mentor Guide, The DREAM Program


Gathering Tales: The Power of Story to Fortify Ourselves in Our Work as Educators, and Our Students in Their Journey as Learners and Contributors to Society

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School, Adult, and General

Education is data-driven, and that’s important, but ultimately, our schools and learning are human experiences, and data rarely pulls the heartstrings that get people behind a mission. We don’t empathize with data, we empathize with Ns of 1: the people we work with, their dreams, their concrete goals, their specific hurdles, and the ways and means by which they overcome them (or not). This workshop will focus on the final chapter of the book Gather, “The Sharpe’s Fifth”.

Workshop participants will gain tools to help students see themselves as heroes in their own journeys toward their futures as contributing members of society. We will consider how to formulate an elective course or unit of study through which students use their own experiences as fodder or as a lens. But it is not for humanities teachers only: even before graduation, it is possible to consider our lives from a personal finance (math) perspective, from a scientific perspective, and from an artistic perspective. How do we empower kids to tell their own story and learn from it?

Presenter: Ken Cadow, Principal, Oxbow High School and author of Gather


Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) Career Resources to Prepare Your Students for Jobs of the Future and How to Become a Gold Standard School 

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School

Are your students prepared for the careers of the future? This session will explore resources within the NGPF Careers Unit from its FREE curriculum. You will also learn more about the momentum happening in the state and the country around Personal Finance education, including opportunities to build this curriculum in middle and high schools.

Presenter: Courtney Poquette, Business Teacher, Winooski High School


Supporting Teens on Their Career Search

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School

Careers CLiC and Vermont Department of Labor Staff are teaming up to lead an interactive session to demonstrate the effective tools they’ve used with more than 5,000 curious middle and high school students over the past five years. They will share how to make labor market information engaging and relevant to students’ own interests.

Participants will leave with resources to help all students successfully navigate each of their unique career paths, including:

  • 4Cs
  • Holland Code/RIASEC Test
  • O*Net Interest Profiler
  • Occupational Projections
  • Wage Estimates
  • Education, Training & Experience
  • CareerOneStop/GetMyFuture

Presenters: Kevin Stapleton, Assistant Director, Economic & Labor Market Information Division, VT Department of Labor; Kathi Terami, Executive Director, Careers CLiC


The Curious Classroom: Keynote Follow-Up

AUDIENCE FOCUS: All Audiences

Try and think about the last thing that you desperately wanted to know. The plot of House of the Dragon season finale? The record for the most points scored in an NBA game? Why does durian fruit smell the way it does? Whatever nugget of information you’re itching to know, the driving, exploratory force—curiosity—is a capricious, complex factor. But understanding it and knowing how to harness it can change lives; those of students, teachers, and ourselves.

This talk offers an introduction to what curiosity is, how to foster it, and what kills it (and the cat!) Make sure you have coffee beforehand—it’s interactive!

Presenter: Erik Shonstrom, Associate Professor of Writing, Champlain College and author of Wild Curiosity


What is Essential Math for College and Careers (EMC2) and How Can It Help Your Students?

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School

EMC2 is a course designed by VT high school math teachers and math professors from the Vermont State University System (VTSU). It is built around 16 Essential Math Concepts and draws heavily on the CCSS-M Standards for Math Practices as well as the NCTM Best Math Teaching Practices. This course is filled with rich tasks that students work on collaboratively to strengthen and deepen their math skills in algebra, problem-solving, and quantitative reasoning.

EMC2 is different by design from traditional high school math courses. Students are presented with a situation and asked to work together in small groups to come up with a solution. Following that they present their solutions to each other and begin the rich dialogue of creating the ‘best’ solution. EMC2 has many opportunities to build communication and collaboration skills as well as strengthen foundational math understanding. It is not filled with learning steps to algorithms or formulas.

In this session, we will try out some of the tasks from the course and talk about different ways schools are offering the course as well as best practices for recruiting students for the course.

Presenter: Anita Long, Academic Support Coordinator, VSAC GEAR UP

Session 2 Workshops (12:00-1:15)

Accessibility in College After High School: Knowing Your Needs, Understanding the Process, and Who to Talk To

AUDIENCE FOCUS: High School, Adult, and General

There are a lot of unknowns when making the transition from high school to college. This presentation hopes to reduce some of the mystery for students with disabilities as it relates to receiving services and ensuring access.

We will review general processes, including providing contact information for Accessibility Services at the Community College of Vermont, Vermont State University and additional colleges and universities in the state. We will share best practices for when and how to request these services, including what you may need to provide as documentation.

For parents and guardians, we also want to honor the support and involvement they have had in their child’s educational experience until now. We plan to share information about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to reduce some surprises that may be coming their way.

Presenters: Marie Frietze, Resource Access Manager for Secondary Education Initiatives, Community College of Vermont; Kate Anderson, Coordinator of Student Advising, Community College of Vermont; Cody Miller, Coordinator of Student Advising, Community College of Vermont


Design Thinking: Sensible Sedan Challenge

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Adult and General

Session participants will engage in the Design Thinking Process by creating Sedans from Laser Cut and 3D printed parts. This thought activity will challenge participants to work in teams to create novel solutions, test their ideas, make predictions, and compete against other teams.

After this session, participants should be able to:

  • Consider ways in which this activity can be transferred into their own educational settings with learner populations.
  • Understand a Problem in order to generate multiple possible solutions.
  • Communicate ideas to others.
  • Discuss the ideas of others, and build off of their ideas to create new ones.
  • Collect data to identify the impact of different ideas.
  • Identify the transferable skills involved.

Presenters: Veronica Newton, Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships, Generator MakerSpace; Meg Hammond, Executive Director, Generator MakerSpace


Planting Seeds and Growing College Curiosity, Competence, and Credits Through CCV’s Continuum of Free Opportunities for Middle and High School Students

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School

This workshop will outline the many ways that, starting in middle school and continuing through high school, students can take advantage of free opportunities at CCV to develop and strengthen college and career aspirations and put students on a fast-track to earning college credits while in high school. 

During this session participants will:

  • Learn about opportunities available to middle and high school students at CCV.
  • Understand how students’ experiences with CCV’s continuum can build college curiosity, competence, and confidence.
  • Learn about tools to help students, counselors, and families in the decision-making process around available opportunities, including assessing readiness.
  • Share expertise around best practices for supporting students in accessing opportunities and navigating systems.

Presenters: Amy Dodge Post-Secondary Programs Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Education; Sarah Kresser, Early College Degree Program Manager, Community College of Vermont; Natalie Searle, Director of Secondary Education Initiatives, Community College of Vermont


Rebuilding After the Storm(s)

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School

In this workshop, VSAC Aspirations Partnership will introduce attendees to the findings from the VSAC Research Brief Summer 2023 and create space for participants to share innovative programs and practices. We will review key points from VSAC’s senior survey research brief that shows the notable decline in student aspirations when comparing 2012 and 2018 results to 2022 responses.

We will provide an opportunity for schools to share innovative programs and practices, exchange ideas, and describe examples of new strategies employed to increase student agency in their education.   

Presenters: Ellen Bagnato, Aspirations Partnership Supervisor, VSAC; Holly Hammond, Aspirations School Specialist, VSAC


Recipe for Human Connection

AUDIENCE FOCUS: General

The Recipe for Human Connection class at Hazen Union High School was developed during the pandemic and has continued since as a collaboration between students, teachers, community partners, and food. In this workshop, we will share how the class has evolved over time as a food and cooking focused experience for students to build and participate in community and to discover the possibilities that come from connection.

Our group of presenters will include youth and adults sharing about the class and how it has impacted their learning journeys as students and teachers. A simple activity preparing and sharing food will help us connect as part of the workshop experience. We will start out by introducing ourselves and the idea of the Recipe for Human Connection (RFHC) Class.

Then we’ll break up into small groups with a team of presenters joining each group to answer questions and explore the ideas and impacts of RFHC - while preparing some food together! Small groups will bring their creations back to the whole group for a chance to share both food and reflections at the end of the workshop.

Presenters: Jen Olson, Work-Based Learning Coordinator, Hazen Union High School; Reeve Basom, Place-Based Education Coordinator, The Center for an Agricultural Economy; Hazen Union High School students that have participated in the class


Transitions on Purpose: Intentionally Planting Seeds for Student Success

AUDIENCE FOCUS: High School, Adult, and General

In this workshop, we’ll be showcasing the Office of Purposeful Learning (OPL), a new program to help students in their transition to Saint Michael’s College. Through a model of a trio of advisors (academic, success, career coach) assigned to students during their first year, Student Success Advisors work within our office and take on a primary role in helping students adapt to college.

Aside from the courses, Student Success Advisors meet with students at least once a semester and offer a variety of programming to help our students connect with one another. Once students complete their first year, Purposeful Learning offers a Sophomore Seekers program to continue programming efforts to meet the needs of the students in their second year.

While we are “planting seeds for student success,” we are also planting seeds for lifelong learning, impact, and intentional living. We want young people to think of themselves as agents of change and contributors to the world around them - that they can do something meaningful with not only what they study but what they learn about themselves in the process.

Presenters: Heidi St. Peter, Director of Office of Purposeful Learning, Saint Michael’s College; Katie Barry, Student Success Advisor, Saint Michael’s College; Maria del sol Nava, Student Success Advisor, Saint Michael’s College; Vernita Weller, Student Success Advisor, Saint Michael’s College


Why Military Options Work for Vermonters

AUDIENCE FOCUS: High School, Adult, and General

Many counselors have said “they knew in theory that military service could be a good option for students”, but with so many different possibilities, from type of service (active, reserve, or national guard) to different branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Space Force) or even how to consider officer candidacy versus enlistment, their low level of understanding gave them pause in advising students on options, and they normally defaulted to simply sending students to recruiters.

This presentation is intended to provide a baseline of understanding on all of these frameworks as well as an appreciation of many of the benefits that accrue to servicemembers so that counselors and career advisors may feel more prepared when working with young people.

Presenter: James Yepez, Lt. Col. (Ret.), USAF and School Counseling Coordinator, Burlington Technical Center

Session 3 Workshops (1:25-2:40)

Building Strong Partnerships: Outreach and School Counselors Teaming Up for Success

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School

In this workshop, we will discuss the roles of school counselors and outreach counselors, the importance of working together to support student success, and how school counselors and educational access organizations can fill holes in each other’s programs. We will offer insight about the school counselor’s role, what their position entails, and strategies to work together (including information about the school year schedule for school counselors, and when it may be helpful to find time to support your counselors).

Join Kassidy and Dawn, a current outreach/school counselor team, to learn more about how strong partnerships can work to serve not only our students, but each other! We hope you can leave with some new tips and tricks to improve your program, develop better communication, plan for future success, and at least one goal of something you can do to improve your counselor to counselor relationship(s).

Presenters: Kassidy Moore, GEAR UP Outreach Counselor, VSAC; Dawn Blanchard, School Counselor, Blue Mountain Union School


Busting Gender Bias in Career Counseling

AUDIENCE FOCUS: General

In this workshop, we will explore the messages we all received growing up about gender and how those messages continue to influence our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors today, particularly around career choices. Participants will learn the underlying causes of occupational segregation and the wage gap, and strategies for ensuring all students, regardless of gender identity, have full access to a wide range of career options. We will learn how our own implicit biases can creep into everyday situations, and how to bring a deeper awareness, interrupt bias, and shift our thinking.

Presenters: Caelan Keenan, Youth Program Manager, Vermont Works for Women; Margaret Overman, Gender Equity Services Manager, Vermont Works for Women; Alison Lamagna, Director of Programs, Vermont Works for Women; Missy Mackin, Program Manager, Vermont Works for Women


Career and Education Exploration with MyFutureVT and the Vermont Employment Pathfinder

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School, Adult, and General

This session will introduce participants to MyFutureVT and the new Vermont Employment Pathfinder tool. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of how to use MyFutureVT and the Vermont Employment Pathfinder both as an information resource for them and for career and education exploration and planning for their clients.

MyFutureVT.org is a free career and education exploration and planning hub for Vermonters. This online tool showcases entrance points to the top 500 jobs in Vermont, over 500 in-state education and training programs to access these jobs, and a comprehensive collection of resources to help support Vermonters along their career and education journey.

The site also showcases the Vermont Employment Pathfinder, a new tool that leverages artificial intelligence technology to connect a person’s real-world experiences and skills to career and educational opportunities in Vermont.

Presenters: Tom Cheney, Executive Director, Advance Vermont; Alex Beck, Welcoming Communities Manager, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation


College & Careers: Personalized Support Planning

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School, Adult, and General

Learn how progressive education can help ease the stress for an individual with a disability and their family as they are considering college and careers during or after high school. Here we will highlight the work between VT Department of Disability Services, HireAbility, and the College Compass program in developing and supporting individuals through a personalized plan as they work toward greater independence and advocacy for long-term success.

Areas of Support include:

  • Mentorship,
  • Campus engagement,
  • Skill building,
  • Strong team-based communication,
  • And more.

Presenters: Brya Emery, Director of Admissions & Enrollment, College Steps; Jessica Nadeau, Supported Employment Specialist & Post-Secondary Education Coordinator, VT Developmental Disabilities Services Division (DDSD); Betsy Choquette, Program Manager, HireAbility


How Do You Support Students as Agents of Change Within Their Communities?

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Middle and High School

Student empowerment is imperative to supporting leadership development. In this discussion-based workshop, we examine equitable and democratic education leadership through the perspective of student leaders and alumni of education opportunity programs.

We hope that educators can walk away with an understanding that empowering learners does not exist without equitable and democratic student input into education. We use the experiences of alumni of education opportunity programming to share their experiences in the creation, facilitation, and execution of an alumni committee. We help educators investigate ways to implement student voice and input into their own programming.

Presenters: David Richardson, VSAC GEAR UP Intern; Adriana Eldred, GEAR UP Communications Specialist, VSAC; Halley Riley-Elliott, VSAC GEAR UP Alumni Advisory Committee Facilitator; Irah Thurber, VSAC GEAR UP Alumni Advisory Committee member; Jessica Smith, GUIDE Program Coordinator, VSAC


Jump On Board for Success (JOBS) Programs: Supported Employment for Youth with SED

AUDIENCE FOCUS: High School, Adult, and General

This workshop will outline the process and strategies that JOBS Programs have used for the last 30 years to support youth with a high level of need to thrive in Vermont communities. The JOBS Programs are a unique partnership of state and local agencies that work to identify and support youth who have left high school or are at risk of leaving high school prior to completion. Youth receive these services free of charge due to the shared funding model at the state level. 

Youth with SED (severe emotional disturbance) have outcomes worse than their peers in high school completion, interaction with both the juvenile and criminal justice systems, substance use, and housing instability to name a few. Program staff work with youth to build protective factors through community support, case management, and employment.

Presenters: Kara Haynes, Transition Program Manager, HireAbility; Teri-Anne Walker, JOBS Program Manager, HireAbility; Kris Kouwenhoven, JOBS Program Manager, HireAbility; Jesse Lawrence, JOBS and Supported Employment Coordinator, Clara Martin Center; Laura Flint, Senior Evidence-Based Practice Evaluator, Dept. of Mental Health


Universal Design in Neuro-Shared Spaces 

AUDIENCE FOCUS: Elementary, Middle, and High School

This workshop will explore strategies for implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a tool for increasing equity, developing a culture of belonging, and improving outcomes for both neurotypical and neurodivergent students. Participants will deepen their understanding of UDL, further develop their toolbox of UDL strategies, and gain strategies for addressing implementation challenges specific to neurodiverse classrooms.

Presenters: Hannah Markos, Director of Neurodiversity & Inclusion Program, VT Higher Education Collaborative; Kelly Cray, English Language Development Teacher, Burr and Burton Academy and Founder of The Autist Educator

Questions: Email printon@vsac.org

Session I Workshop Materials

Drawing Stars- A "Math Through Art" Experience

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

DREAM Guided Mentoring: Learning Through Relationships

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Gathering Tales: The Power of Story to Fortify Ourselves in Our Work as Educators, and Our Students in Their Journey as Learners and Contributors to Society

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) Career Resources to Prepare Your Students for Jobs of the Future and How to Become a Gold Standard School 

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Supporting Teens on Their Career Search

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

The Curious Classroom: Keynote Follow-Up

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

What is Essential Math for College and Careers (EMC2) and How Can It Help Your Students?

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Session II Workshop Materials

Accessibility in College After High School: Knowing Your Needs, Understanding the Process, and Who to Talk To

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Design Thinking: Sensible Sedan Challenge

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Planting Seeds and Growing College Curiosity, Competence, and Credits Through CCV’s Continuum of Free Opportunities for Middle and High School Students

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Rebuilding After the Storm(s)

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Recipe for Human Connection

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Transitions on Purpose: Intentionally Planting Seeds for Student Success

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Why Military Options Work for Vermonters

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Session III Workshop Materials

Building Strong Partnerships: Outreach and School Counselors Teaming Up for Success

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Busting Gender Bias in Career Counseling

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Career and Education Exploration with MyFutureVT and the Vermont Employment Pathfinder

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

College & Careers: Personalized Support Planning

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

How Do You Support Students as Agents of Change Within Their Communities?

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Jump On Board for Success (JOBS) Programs: Supported Employment for Youth with SED

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).

Universal Design in Neuro-Shared Spaces

Materials will be made available after the conference if provided by the presenter(s).