BOCA RATON, Fla., Jul. 03 /CSRwire/ – Give them a few years, and the student winners of this year’s Office Depot Foundation Dream UP Career Exploration Program Essay Challenge will likely be making names for themselves in fields ranging from aerospace engineering to psychiatry.
Since it began in 2009, approximately 90,000 students from across the country have found the inspiration – and the knowledge – they need to attain their future career goals by participating in the Dream UP Program, which is offered to middle school teachers at no cost by the - the independent, nonprofit foundation that serves as the primary charitable giving arm of Office Depot, Inc. (NYSE: ODP) – in collaboration with .
This spring and summer, five Dream UP Essay Challenge winners from the 2013-2014 school year are completing their dream job mentoring experiences. They include:
The Dream UP program seeks to address the alarming problem of middle school students dropping out of school. “By giving middle school students the tools and resources to begin to consider career opportunities, establish long-term goals and dream about what they might become in the future, we’re helping to keep students in the classroom, rather than losing them to the streets,” says Office Depot Foundation president Mary Wong. Dream UP student winners in previous years have experienced careers as diverse as veterinary medicine, journalism, teaching, automobile design and military service as a Coast Guardsman and fighter pilot.
Using the Dream UP project-based curriculum, students study current workplace trends, reading and analyzing the latest industry news from USA TODAY to identify career opportunities and understand professional requirements. Through Dream UP, students research several career options and develop a career portfolio. The project culminates with students selecting and writing essays about the professions that most intrigue and inspire them. Schools select the best essays to submit to the national Dream UP Essay Challenge and, each school year, five student winners are given the opportunity to live their dream job for a day.
Sandra Stapleton, the Allen Central Middle School teacher in Kentucky who has now taught two student winners, observes, “Dream UP allows students to explore interests, think about and set future goals, collaborate with peers about their education, engage with family through communication about real-life learning and improve awareness of the importance for educational success. The essay opportunity strengthens writing and communication skills by providing an avenue for published work. The bottom line – middle school kids think about their future in a new way and begin to dream, not only of success, but how to achieve that dream!”
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