Middle School Apprenticeships

Middle School Apprenticeships

How do we push children outside of their familiarity and into an experience where they can explore their interests within the context of a career?

Each year, our Middle School students in the 7th and 8th grades complete an apprenticeship, during which they spend a day outside of regular school to enter the “world of work” by shadowing a mentor or team of mentors of their choice.

Exploring “Voce”

The purpose is for our students to explore “voce” – their voice, vocation, avocation – and to explore areas of interest or passion and dip into a “calling” or vocational dream. Indeed, through their apprenticeship, we encourage our students to consider their life trajectory, personal goals, and ideas for future learning.

“We really encourage students to think about doing something that they might be interested in as a career as an adult, or just something that they want to learn more about,” says Kalli Gedwed, Oak Grove’s Middle School Math Teacher and 7th Grade Advisor.

Aaron Gardner, Oak Grove’s Middle School Humanities Teacher, adds: “We connect the students with parents and other members of our community and ask parents to help and support their kids in finding and organizing their apprenticeships. But many of the students do it all by themselves.”

“We ask our students not to team up and visit businesses together so that they’re really able to have their own experience,” says Kalli. “And we also ask them to broaden their horizons and avoid doing their apprenticeships with their own parents. Sometimes students’ first choices are not available to them, and then we encourage them to think outside of the box and find something different.”

Middle School Apprenticeships Presentation

A Variety of Apprenticeships

The variety of businesses and places that the 7th and 8th grade students choose to visit is huge. “It runs the gamut,” says Aaron. “We’ve had kids work with a video game company; one student worked with the creators of the card game Exploding Kittens; we’ve had a student go to NASA to do a space camp, and then there are students who join Brian, our Art Teacher, and work with him in the art room.”

This year 7th grade students visited businesses including Bang Zoom! Entertainment, an audio post-production studio in Burbank that does voice-overs; Ali Golden, a local clothing boutique; SunOven, a gluten-free and vegan wholesale bakery; Cassie’s Cats, a cat rescue center in Ventura; upmarket Ojai hair salon Bohème; and Patagonia. “We also had a student visit an Elementary School in Goleta to spend time with a 2nd grade teacher,” adds Kalli.

Eighth grade students meanwhile visited businesses including Hungry Man Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company; jewelry company Betty Belts; Guitar48, a guitar store in Ventura; as well as Natural Rhythm Dog Training; and pro-surfer Dan Malloy.

During their apprenticeship day, students get to interview their mentors and ask questions about their professions. And when they return, they compile a presentation of their experience, which they then share with the rest of the class.

“It’s really about getting the kids out there into the community, getting them to think about what they’re interested in and learning about what it’s like in a professional environment,” says Kalli.

“Is it not very important while you are young that you should be helped to awaken your own intelligence and thereby find your true vocation? Then you will love what you do, right through life, which means there will be no ambition, no competition, no fighting another for position, for prestige; and then perhaps you will be able to create a new world.”
J Krishnamurti – Life Ahead, Chapter 7

The Art of Living and Learning in Middle School

Middle School (Junior High) is an exciting transitional journey from childhood to young adulthood, and our dedicated faculty will help you navigate these important times and prepare you for the path ahead. Oak Grove Middle School offers a rich, balanced experience that taps into your interests and natural creativity. We pursue deep academic inquiry, social-emotional growth, and joy, giving strength to our students’ inner lives and to enrich our lives together in community.

Our Middle School faculty team consists of three core homeroom teachers in humanities and science/math, a dedicated Advisory teacher, and specialists in Spanish, art, music, horticulture, and physical education.

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