Learn to Earn 2002: Earning from the Heart

by Lauren Hoehlein, UVBEP Intern

It could be said that the sign of an effective educational system is the depth of the faculty's understanding of their students and the extent to which they act on this understanding. Quite often, the most successful educational systems are those in which the faculty and administration make modifications to standard curriculum and programs to accommodate particular interests and needs of their students. If this is the case, then Hanover High School should be heavily commended for their innovative take on an existing program.

As Partner Schools of the Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership, Dresden Schools are often involved with educational programs such as Groundhog Job Shadow day, but one project just didn't quite fit the needs of Hanover High students. Learn to Earn is a program designed to involve members of the community and local businesses in encouraging ninth graders to take more advanced math, science, and technology classes in order to expand their future career opportunities. This initiative is taking place throughout Vermont and the Upper Valley of New Hampshire. UVBEP was facilitating this program with eight other partner schools, but Jon Haehnel, a ninth grade science teacher, felt that this sort of encouragement was not what this particular school district needed. Rather, many of the students are often under the stressful disillusion that they must take a certain prescribed set of classes in order to get into a good college and achieve what is traditionally considered to be success. With this in mind, UVBEP worked with Mr. Haehnel and colleague Casey Milender to design a unique program for the ninth graders of Hanover and Norwich that stressed not only the importance of a strong and challenging education, but equally the innate value in listening to one's own interests, desires, and dreams when planning ahead for the future.

For this distinct request, UVBEP asked Mike Yacavone, Founder and President, XeniumGroup and Lynne Walker, Art Director, Lynne Walker Design Studio, to speak to all of the ninth graders, through science classes, about their individual experiences with a vast array of career choices and changes, particular jobs, and education. Between the two of them, they have held over thirty jobs through the years, ranging from an early experience delivering newspapers to a lucrative career in the web design industry. They stressed the importance of following one's intuition and passion when choosing a job, not be afraid of changing one's career path, and to judge success by factors such as passion, growth, and lifestyle, in addition to money. They explained that it is quite possible to create a job out of almost any love and passion, and that since success can be defined in many different ways, there is no one prescribed road towards this elusive goal.

The majority of the students were surprised at just how many jobs the two of them had held, and how successful they could be without specialized educational backgrounds or degrees. As one student said, "It was helpful to know that you could make money and love what you do."

Overall, the presentations went very well, and though they may not have been quite in line with the traditional Learn to Earn format, HHS truly benefited as a result of this creative and fresh approach to an often overlooked concept.