Jaguar Job Lab debuts at Thomas Jefferson High School
The West Jefferson Hills School District is pleased to offer a new employment exploration program for middle and high school students called the Practical Assessment Exploration System, or PAES Lab. A classroom located at the Thomas Jefferson High School has been transformed into the “Jaguar Job Lab” where life skills and learning support students are immersed in workforce development training and real-world learning skills. This data-driven assessment system identifies a student’s functional skill level, work potential and career interests to create a pathway for successful employment beyond high school. According to Jade Fiore, supervisor of special education and pupil personnel, “This is a valuable tool to help our students succeed by providing additional opportunities in pre-vocational skills so that they can join the competitive workforce. We are so excited to be able to offer this to our students.”
The Jaguar Job Lab simulates real workplace settings where teachers become employers and students become employees. Students must clock in/clock out, just like a real job and follow an independent work procedure, which guides them through the process of getting their own job materials, completing an array of tasks and calling for supervisors only when necessary. Students are evaluated on the number of tasks performed, the amount of time required, how well the tasks were executed and the amount of assistance needed in a particular area. Student employees are rewarded points for completing jobs and for demonstrating appropriate workplace behaviors while supervisors provide incentives to emulate real-world compensation.
Students explore jobs in five industry specific areas to determine their interests and abilities in Business/Marketing, Computer/Technology, Construction/Industrial, Consumer/Service and Processing/Production. “Once a student has successfully completed the program, supervisors are able to provide concrete data to recommend a personalized career path. This is such a huge advantage for our students as we prepare them for the real world,” states Emily Leininger, life skills teacher. Fundamental life skills are also taught such as completing a job application, participating in the interview process and taking part in new employee orientation and job training.
The PAES Program also helps students apply functional math and reading skills in a broad range of career areas that are relevant to their daily lives. Students will be exposed to practical applications of everyday finances such as using and managing a checkbook, personal budgets, rent, utilities and insurance, and how to make thoughtful decisions required for everyday, independent living. Students are encouraged to become independent problem-solvers and develop higher-order thinking skills, which are essential for future employment.