Trumansburg Connection: Career and college experience program grows


Now that the Career and College Experience position has been filled and active for over a year, Meggan VanNess, Career and College Experience Coordinator, is increasingly visible and active in the classrooms. More students are familiar with VanNess in this position and are able to take advantage of the options available to them, including job shadowing, internships, and capstone projects, in order to gain skills and assess whether it is a career or field they are truly interested in exploring.

Beginning at the first-year level and through their senior year, students can job shadow as many times as they would like, going into a job site and spending the day or a couple of hours just seeing what a job or a career looks like. Job shadowing is not credit-bearing but both the capstone projects and internships are. Students can earn either a half or full credit, depending on factors such as the amount of time put into the course and how many times they have met with their mentor. In an internship, the student goes into a job site with a mentor who assists them in learning entry-level skills with hands-on learning. Capstone projects are more student-led, although students do also work with a mentor. If there is an issue, idea, or project they are interested in the student has a couple of options to explore it. These include brainstorming a problem and solving it or creating something that benefits the community.

There are several students who are taking advantage of job shadowing opportunities in health care and real estate. Elizabeth Dawson is one student who has been able to take advantage of an internship, and has gone above and beyond to get the most out of the experience. Under the mentorship of teacher Jenny Henion, Dawson has been working with fifth and seventh-grade choral students, directing and teaching new pieces of music. Because of Dawson’s personal drive, paired with the ability of Henion to really take Dawson under her wing, they have created a real student teaching type experience, which most college education major’s do not have until at least their junior year.
There are currently around a dozen students in the junior class who are interested in participating in a capstone project or internship in their senior year. Interests range from law enforcement, health care and physical therapy, elementary education, animal science, advocacy, and more.

At the middle school level, college and career exploration begins in the fifth grade. School counselor Lauren Bujnicki presents to students in fifth and sixth grade in their home and careers classes. VanNess works with students in the seventh and eighth grade, also in their home and career classes. This year she is working with seventh graders on soft skills such as interpersonal communication, time management, and other transferable skills. At the eighth-grade level, she is still working on those skills but is also working on understanding interest inventories, or what students are actually interested in, what a career actually looks like, and what kind of skills or education they would need to pursue that career.

These discussions at this level are not intended to 100 percent pin down what students want to do with their lives, but rather to give them a better understanding of themselves, and provide basic skills that can be used in whatever they decide to do. It is also an integral part of ensuring the school gives the best level of education possible. When starting the discussion and the thought process early, school counselors are able to assist students in finding the best path for them. In addition to being able to take advantage of job shadowing, internships, and capstone projects, students have opportunities through other courses offered at the school. BOCES programs are there for students to gain skill sets and better identify careers and colleges that are the best fit for them. This is crucial to our economy as we have steered students toward college, and now are facing a skilled labor crisis.

“My favorite part of my job is I get to focus on getting kids excited, and I get to make things happen for them,” VanNess said. “I get to show them that they can take what they are interested in and make that into a career.”

There is one particular challenge though; pairing students with mentors locally. According to VanNess, “This is where we really rely on the community. The biggest thing for us is trying to match local people with our students. These kids are busy to begin with - we have really involved kids in Trumansburg, so to send someone to Ithaca or to Lansing, can be problematic. Although we could do it, if we can find mentors who are local, it is more beneficial to them and to the community.” VanNess is building a catalog of businesses and community members who are interested in becoming a mentor so she is prepared to pair a student with a mentor, even if the student is not sure what they would like to explore. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, contact VanNess at

In Brief:

Pause and Unwind with Lissa at Lakshmi Living Arts
Join Lissa for six Tuesdays (or however many you can!) as Spring begins to unfold. The intention of this class is to give yourself space as you emerge from winter and to help establish some patterns of being grounded in your body as the light returns, the days get longer and our schedules get fuller and fuller. We’ll take these 75 minutes in the early evening to pause, be present in our bodies, unwind, move, and connect with our breath. Come as you are, all levels are welcome.

$15/ class reserving online or drop in. To reserve your spot visit:

Empty Bowls Update
The fourth Empty Bowls event was successful on many levels, raising enough money to provide for a month of pantries which is important as government funding continues to be cut. There was not only involvement from the business and religious community but Trumansburg High School students who provided handmade bowls and informational posters on hunger.

More families came and enjoyed the free bowling. It is a real community event incorporating many aspects of the village for a good cause and a nice afternoon together. The handmade bowl that everyone takes home serves as a reminder of the day and that there is hunger in our world.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment