A Space to Dream: College & Career Success Program reaches IAL Middle School Students through Alumni Week

By: The Strategy & Institutional Advancement Team
March 17, 2022

“I’m proud of the way our College & Career Success team and our teachers have supported each other to effectively serve our students.” – Hazel Pina, Alumni Success Manager

Inwood Academy strives to open as many doors as possible for students during and after their time in our school, and we know that exposure to future opportunities from as young of an age as possible is key to seeing this happen. Over the course of the 2021-22 school year, we have begun expanding our College & Career Success (CCS) Program to serve all students grades 5-12 in addition to our growing number of alumni.

Inwood Academy’s CCS Program provides wraparound support for students and alumni throughout their education so that they can set and reach future goals they are excited about (we’re talking real-life internships, college decisions, scholarships, and job opportunities). In order to support the growth we are pursuing, we have increased our staff and introduced a new Alumni Internship Program to our CCS Department. In addition to providing alumni interns with valuable professional experience and income, employing our alumni has helped us present post-secondary opportunities to younger students in a way that is relevant, needed, and enjoyed. The impact our alumni interns have already made this year is incredible, and we can’t wait to grow the program more next year.

One of the most fun parts of the year for those invested in our College & Career Success is our annual Alumni Week, held immediately after winter break. Despite some obvious omicron-related setbacks, we were able to host another successful Alumni Week, extending the programming for the first time to offer an entire week dedicated to Middle School students.

The focus of this year’s Alumni Week(s) was to help students explore and self-identify future plans that align with their interests, no matter what stage of that decision making process they are in. While we were unable to have our usual live panels of visitors and alumni in the building, our CCS team did an amazing job adjusting plans to give our students the same focused support in small group settings by partnering with teachers more closely than ever before.

“Equipping teachers to lead Alumni Week not only allows us to cater conversations to individual students, but it also encourages follow-up conversations in a way we wouldn’t be able to sustain our own,” explains Alumni Coordinator Hazel Pina. “Let’s say a student wants to be a nurse but they’re not doing well in their science class. If the teacher knows that this student wants to be a nurse, they can tell them, ‘Hey, in order to be a nurse, you have to be good at science, so how about we think about ways you can get your grades up in science so that you can achieve your goals in the future.’”

High School teachers were able to spend time during Alumni Week orienting students to online programs like YouScience and Overgrad, which can be used to independently set college-related goals, track progress, and research options. Middle School teachers focused on facilitating open-ended conversations, sharing their own stories to give students diverse career path examples.

“For some it’s been easy and for some it’s been hard,” reflects Hazel. “It’s important for students to hear these stories from teachers they know and trust so they can understand that the possibilities are really endless.”

You can hear some of our amazing staff and alumni stories by clicking here.

While we could go on and on about how great this year’s Alumni Weeks turned out to be, we are even more excited about the ways we get to follow up on that work throughout the year.

We are already seeing increased dedication in our high school students as they apply their current course load to future goals, and our teachers and counselors will continue to collaborate in supporting their students as they move toward graduation. We look forward to a return to normal with college visits scheduled for later this month and plans for schoolwide career and college fairs in the works.

For our middle school students, it’s all about consistency. Student Council (led by our alumni intern Milagros) is one concrete way we are able to maintain future-oriented conversations with our younger students. Students meet weekly to discuss questions relating to student success and wellbeing, and we love seeing their confidence and creativity effect real change in our school community.

As always, we thank you (our friends, family members, supporters, and neighbors) for joining us on the Trailblazer journey.

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