The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop students in the Northeast Mississippi area from engaging in authentic, career experiences through the Imagine the Possibilities Career Expo. The Toyota Wellspring Education Fund (TWEF) at the CREATE Foundation has been the lead sponsor the last five years for an interactive career expo that pivoted during the 2020-2021 school year to provide virtual resources via a website and app.
The shift in the format of the expo wasn’t the only shift made this year as the focus moved from 8th grade to 10th grade students. Kristy Luse, Vice President of the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund, shared this shift came from feedback from students and schools about the importance of learning about opportunities while in high school to impact course selection as well as authentic learning opportunities such as job shadowing and internships.
In order to incentivize participation in the event, tenth grade students had the opportunity to win points by interacting with the various content and answering simple reflection questions. The points allowed students to be entered into a drawing to win Apple prizes in alignment with how many points they obtained.
The drawing for these prizes was conducted at Church Street School on Monday, March 16 by Khaoula Kamal and Kyion White, who also created the introductory student video for the website. Khaoula Khamal, a current senior at Tupelo High School, shared her enthusiasm to be able to support this event.
“The virtual career expo has helped me to learn more about health sciences, and I have been able to network with-in this field, including Shane Spees from North Mississippi Health Services. I am excited to recognize tenth graders that have actively engaged with this material with prizes.”
Based on the six Mississippi High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) classifications, winners for each level were drawn per classification level for a total of 30 winners. Congratulations to the following lucky winners!
Level 1 BeatsX Earphones – 120 points
- Emmy Reynolds, Houston High School
- Terry Robinson, Mantachie Attendance Center
- Bryson Guess, Nettleton High School
- Kaleigh Mason, New Albany High School
- Michael Myhand, Saltillo High School
- Sergio Garcia, Tupelo High School
Level 2 Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones – 220 points
- Addison Owen, Pontotoc High School
- Sydney Bean, Houston High School
- Latreveone Davidson, Houston High School
- Wesley May, North Pontotoc High School
- Morgan Brownlee, Pontotoc High School
- Crissen McCoy, Tupelo High School
Level 3 AirPods Pro – 320 points
- Daniel Conlee, West Union Attendance Center
- Emma Kate Houser, Pontotoc High School
- Ariana Neal, Houston High School
- Lillian Pulliam, New Albany High School
- Hunter McCaine, Smithville Attendance Center
- Chambers Lane, Pontotoc High School
Level 4 iPad Air – 420 points
- Chasity White, Tremont Attendance Center
- Bre Ana Bennett, Tremont Attendance Center
- Kassandra Ramirez, Pontotoc High School
- Jonathan Vielmas, Pontotoc High School
- John Stacks, New Albany High School
- Jasmier Coleman, Pontotoc High School
Level 5 MacBook Air – 520 points
- Kara-Lee Moody, Tremont Attendance Center
- Kennedy Daniels, Pontotoc High School
- Nakayla Morris, Houston High School
- Takhia Crump, Corinth High School
- Nathaniel Boatman, Saltillo High School
- Jacobie Smith, Tupelo High School
The Toyota Wellspring Education Fund team collected data on the school participation with the virtual career expo in the seventeen counties served in Northeast Mississippi. The participation data from October 2020-March 2021 revealed a participation rate of 20.71% across approximately 6,800 tenth graders in all participating schools. However, it is important to note that the participation in the school districts that have Career Coaches, also supported by the TWEF, as well as administrative leadership that championed the initiative had a significantly higher participation rate. The virtual format will continue in future years, even with a shift back to an in person event, and the hope will be for virtual participation to increase.
The virtual format of the Imagine the Possibilities Career Expo will still be accessible via the website – www.itpcareerexpo.com – and app throughout the course of the school year even though the competition is now complete. Individuals interested in accessing all content will need to create a login that is the same for both avenues. Once logged into the website or app, students are taken to a home screen where they can watch Khoula Khamal and Kyion White share an overview of the interactive experience. Students and parents can then access information all eighteen pathways with each pathway including a pathway overview video, pathway resources, a “day in the life” videos, mentor for a minute clips, and a podcast.
You can learn more about Imagine the Possibilities at www.createfoundation.com or via our social media on Facebook. Major sponsors for the expo include the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund; CREATE Foundation; Toyota Manufacturing; The People’s Bank of Ripley, Renasant Bank, Franklin Corporation, Ross & Yerger, Coca Cola Corinth, Hardy Reed, BNA Bank, and BNSF Railway. In addition to the major sponsors, there are an additional 20 sponsors from around the region.Career Expo, Create, New Albany, New Albany High School, Northeast Mississippi, Toyoto, Union County