Take a look . . . virtually
Campus tours go online to share information, offer insight
School counselors at the Center for Career Services found a creative way to bring prospective students on campus without them ever having to step foot in any of the buildings. Rather than have students come to the campus, they bring the campus to students.
Tours and special classroom visits this year have all been done virtually. The school counseling team has used the online format since the traditional in-person annual open house and information session was not possible this year. Their goal was to continue the relationships they have with school districts throughout the region and help prospective students decide whether a technical education would be right for them. They determined the best way to do that, with COVID-19 still an issue, was to offer tours virtually.
Among the virtual tours is one hosted by Interim Principal Evangelo Michas. In this video, which can be viewed on the Center’s website, Mr. Evangelo walks through each of the buildings, visiting classrooms. Throughout the tour he discusses what each class does, shares details on some of the tools students have available to them and talks about some of the curriculum students are engaged in.
“I would like the parents and students to have a basic understanding of the campus layout and the types of programs that we offer,” Mr. Michas said, adding that he did not have a script, but rather shared his spontaneous thoughts as he walked around campus.
The idea for the Virtual Open House Tour was inspired by similar videos done at other schools, Mr. Michas said. When he presented the idea to the Center’s counseling team, they agreed it would be a great format in lieu of the more traditional in-person Spring Open House the Center typically hosts.
Another type of tour the counseling team coordinates involves setting up a computer to film a classroom. High school students interested in learning about a specific program can tune in live to watch a class. They also have an opportunity to ask teachers and students questions.
“We wanted to try to present the campus in the best way possible,” Guidance Counselor Anna Macchia said, adding the in-class live sessions are a great way for students to see for themselves the value of what the Center for Career Services has to offer.
“All have been better than expected,” Ms. Macchia said of the virtual tours.
This year has presented a different experience for the counseling team. In a typical year, members would personally visit school districts to meet prospective students and bring with them a current Careers student to answer any questions. With safety protocols in place and the mix of learning programs – including in-person, hybrid and remote - among districts, that was not possible. They needed to find a way to reach students, and since so much was taking place virtually in education, why not do their typical practices virtually too?
“This has been a very big challenge,” Ms. Macchia said of the interruption COVID-19 has caused. “We knew the importance of getting our districts involved as much as possible.”
The virtual tours have proven popular, with 60 participants from districts tuning into the first virtual information session earlier this year. Between 15 and 25 students sign on for the Friday virtual tours.
“We are trying to utilize the tools we have,” Ms. Macchia said.
Although she has worked at the Center for Career Services for 15 years, Ms. Macchia said she learns knew things every day. One thing she has learned through filming and setting up the virtual tours is the resiliency of the teachers here.
“Seeing it happen live has been pretty cool,” she said.
While students learn more details about a specific program through these virtual events, they also discover how the campus is a bit of a “mini college experience,” in that they learn how much it costs districts to send them to the program and what it takes to commit to becoming a student here. Not only would they leave the comfort of their home school, but they would engage in hands-on learning with practical real-life experience.
With less time away from campus, Ms. Macchia said the counseling team has also had time to revamp the counseling website, which has seen an increase in traffic this past year.
“People are really looking at us,” she said. “A lot more parents are involved.”
The plan is to continue the virtual tours on Fridays through May.
“Our team has done a really good job of getting information out there,” Ms. Macchia said. “We all should be proud of ourselves.”