August 7, 2021

Wallace Middle School’s Vision for Personalized Student Learning – and how FYG fits their needs

Katherine Bunko on why focusing on individual learning journeys is key to student engagement and success.

We chatted with Katherine Bunko, a Technology, Business, and Life Skills Educator at Wallace Middle School in Waterbury, Connecticut, to hear about her implementation strategy for Find Your Grind and why she believes it is crucial to her students’ success.

Q: Why was it important to bring a program like Find Your Grind to Wallace Middle School and how does the program support your vision for education?

A: It was important for us to bring Find Your Grind to Wallace because it focuses so much on the individual learner, and on the core aspects of our current CTE Curriculum at the Middle School Level. Our program focuses on preparing our learners for high school and for their futures. It was important that this program focuses on more than just college, and exposes students to lifestyles that best fit them individually. The Find Your Grind Curriculum fits in with our existing curriculum, covering topics such as digital safety, personal finance, and preparing students for high school. 

As an educator, Find Your Grind supports my vision because it focuses on the individual student, and as a technology teacher, it is incredibly important to me that the application itself is not only user friendly, but something our students love to use because it is made with GenZ in mind. It is visually the most engaging software we’ve ever used. Students love the look of the application, which helps to keep their engagement. The focus on the individual student themselves is key for success with each student. It really is an exploration of who they are, and can really help us ensure they are enrolling in a high school program that best fits their wants, needs, interests and skills. 

Q: How do you plan on implementing Find Your Grind? If your school did not offer this setting, where else would you recommend social-emotional and career readiness development to be implemented?

A: Our Career and Technical Classes focus on preparing students for high school and beyond. We plan to integrate Find Your Grind into our seventh and eighth grade Business, Computers and Career and Technical Education classes. We will utilize the 18 unit curriculum over two years of classes. The curriculum supports our school district’s mission to inspire and prepare every student to be successful in and beyond school. Our social emotional learning professionals will also utilize Find Your Grind, as well as our guidance staff, and counseling staff. The curriculum may help us determine where our students will attend high school. 

Q: Was there any core feature from Find Your Grind that convinced you to bring this program to your students?

A: The core feature that drew us to the Find Your Grind Software was the visual design of the application. It is an application that students want to use. It is engaging, and looks very similar to applications students use on a daily basis. The color scheme is calming. The information is presented in a very neat and organized manner. The language is on the appropriate level for middle school students. We want to ensure all of our students are engaged, having fun, and making connections in the classroom. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge middle schools have to overcome in preparing students for success in a rapidly changing world and how do you feel Find Your Grind can support?

A: The biggest challenge in preparing our students for the rapidly changing world is being able to expose students to new opportunities and emerging pathways in a way that is meaningful to them. And then ensuring we can help them develop the soft skills required to navigate life challenges and changing landscapes. Find Your Grind provides us a curriculum that delivers both in a personalized way.

Q: There are other programs available that address similar topics to Find Your Grind. Beyond the core feature you highlighted earlier, was there anything else significant about Find Your Grind that stood out to you during your vetting process of products? 

A: For us at Wallace, the mentorship piece of Find Your Grind was really important. It is important for our students to be able to connect with people who live the lifestyle they would like to have in the future. Wallace is a Title I school located in a large inner city district in Connecticut. Our population of students is very diverse, and come from a multitude of different backgrounds. 

It is important for them to see people in the jobs and careers they would like to have in the future. It is also important for our students to learn about the many different pathways to become successful. Life is not a one size fits all journey, and it is very important for students to see the ways in which they can reach their goals.

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