Dean Gary Bowen and Professor Emeritus Dennis Orthner, both of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work (SSW), traveled to Israel in March 2018 at the invitation of Noya Baram, senior program director for youth employment and entrepreneurship, JDC Ashalim. They provided consultation on the implementation of the CareerStart program in Israel, which has expanded to 44 schools in three districts.
Nearly 18,000 students in Israel are in schools that incorporate CareerStart instruction, which involves helping students connect what they are learning in school to future career opportunities. CareerStart evolved from SSW research that found low-income middle school youth often struggled in their transitions to middle school. The program was launched in 2004 in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS) by Orthner, Patrick Akos (professor, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education) and Donald Martin (former superintendent, WSFCS). The evidence-based CareerStart program has been subjected to rigorous evaluation and has demonstrated positive impacts on students’ school engagement, attendance rates, student behavior and end-of-grade test scores, Bowen noted.
In Israel, Bowen and Orthner visited an Israeli middle school outside of Tel Aviv (Atid Neve Nahum School) and met with groups of students who shared the results of their learning about careers dealing with the environment. Teachers are trained to integrate career instruction seamlessly into their required curriculum lessons. The CareerStart lessons are offered in math, science, English and language arts classes, both in Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking schools.
Bowen and Orthner made presentations to and consulted with representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Israeli Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, JDC Ashalim staff members and the CareerStart evaluation team in Jerusalem. They also met with colleagues from Bar Ilan University and Haifi University.
“I am so proud of the work of my colleague, Dr. Orthner,” Bowen said. “His leadership in expanding CareerStart in Israel is highly commendable.
“He has earned the respect, trust and admiration from his Israeli counterparts,” Bowen added. “I was proud to join him in representing our School of Social Work. Every middle and high school in North Carolina should be implementing CareerStart — a simple yet very influential intervention.”
Bowen and Orthner plan a follow-up meeting with UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick later this year.