Reach Cyber Charter School Partners with Oyster to Nurture Early Career Exploration in Pennsylvania Amid Workforce Gap

Reach Cyber Charter School

PENNSYLVANIA — In response to a growing workforce gap in Pennsylvania, Reach Cyber Charter School has partnered with Oyster, a STEAM Career kit service for kids, to bring career exploration to over 5,000 students across the state. The innovative approach aims to address a critical shortage of workers, as indicated by data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which shows that as of September 2023, there were only 66 available workers for every 100 open jobs in Pennsylvania.

Reach Cyber Charter School, a STEM-focused online public charter school, is utilizing Oysterkits – hands-on STEM career kits that cover 37 different careers – to encourage purposeful career exploration among its K-8 students.

“Career exploration is where passion meets potential, and at Reach Cyber, we are dedicated to helping students find theirs by educating and preparing them to enter the workforce,” said JD Smith, Director of Career Readiness at Reach Cyber Charter School. “Oysterkits allow our students to naturally explore professions and careers at a young age, helping them develop and cultivate a mindset that will prepare them to make informed decisions about career experiences and opportunities in high school.”

Each Oysterkit provides hands-on STEM experiments designed around one profession, encouraging students to engage in real-world situations and connect their learning experiences with the world around them. Careers covered range from veterinarians and mail carriers to game designers and electrical engineers.

The kits include three to five activities, costumes and props for role-playing, and QR codes to access digital flipbooks that meet Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards requirements. For instance, the veterinarian kit includes a make-your-own vet’s hat, a play puppy, and a vet’s bag to carry patient records and medical instruments.

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Mary Parrish, CEO of Oyster, LLC, expressed her excitement about the partnership, stating, “Oyster’s mission is to have students explore 25 careers before reaching middle school so that a career has sparked their interests and discovered their natural skills and talents leading them to make better and more informed decisions on their selection of electives moving forward; which is why and how Reach Cyber is preparing their students for career readiness.”

Apart from K-8 career exploration, Reach Cyber also offers a variety of career experience opportunities for high school students, including job shadowing, internships, pre-apprenticeships, and apprenticeships. The school launched a Carpentry program in 2021, its first Career Course Program where students earn credits and hours towards safety certifications, pre-apprenticeships, and licenses. This program has since expanded to include Cosmetology and Veterinary Science.

Reach Cyber Charter School’s innovative approach to early career exploration represents a proactive strategy to address Pennsylvania’s looming workforce gap, offering students a valuable head start in their career journey. For more information about Reach Cyber Charter School, visit ReachCyber.Org.

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