“Best Day Ever.” “Genius.” “Change Maker.” These words buzzed through the air this week from learners during the first week of the inaugural Readiness Institute at Penn State Summer Program — a six-week paid experience for rising high school seniors that helps them become community and future ready.
The program kicked off on Monday, June 21, with 45 learners from 22 school districts in Allegheny County, including a cohort of 16 learners from Pittsburgh Public Schools. Participants, alongside a diverse team of educators, counselors, and community leaders, used human-centered design methods to identify and define skills, attitudes, and values necessary for them to design and lead a purposeful life.
The first week also enabled education, industry, and community partners to coordinate, collaborate, and create experiences for participants to achieve community and future readiness. Several regional leaders and organizations — such as Dr. Cornelius Coleman from Duquesne University, Tamara Talbott and Kwam Herring from Pittsburgh Career Institute, and NFL alumnus Gus Frerotte — shared a variety of modern literacies with learners, such as change literacy and adversity. Angela Maiers, world renowned educator and author, also motivated participants with a live inspiration message of, “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”
Dr. Stan Thompson from The Heinz Endowments talked to the students about his background in education and his experience with his children and how that instilled in him a desire to shift the conversation from college and career readiness to community and future readiness.
Learners also took a tour and attended a variety of activities at Penn State Greater Allegheny, including a workshop with Dr. Anthony Mitchell, associate teaching professor of African and African American Studies and co-founder of the Stewart and Jones Scholar Leadership Program. Participants engaged in several team-building activities at the Penn State Center Pittsburgh classroom facilities and presented to their peers on the topic of change. They were then presented with a Change Maker certificate to recognize their hard work, determination, and passion to design and lead in matters personal, professional, and public.
An array of virtual engagement opportunities highlighted subjects from the importance of slowing down to effective strategies on how to better deal with change. Participants also reflected on Career Journey videos created by the Consortium for Public Education and completed reflection questions to understand “Who Am I?”
As you can tell, the Readiness Institute at Penn State Summer Program is in full swing and participants will continue to experience a world-class learner-centered program throughout the remainder of the summer.