IDEA Public Charter School

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1027 45th St. NE, Washington, DC 20019 Phone: 202-399-4750
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Connections with Real-World Professionals Help Scholars Explore Careers

Inviting Professionals to IDEA

So far this school year, 57 local professionals representing a variety of industries have visited IDEA to share stories of their careers with IDEA scholars. Through our quarterly career expos and our senior mixer, scholars have the opportunity to learn about possible future paths.

"We use a data-driven process to create individualized passports for each scholar," explained Career and Technical Education Director Andrea Zimmermann. "We want scholars to meet people from professions they've expressed interest in as well as expose them to careers they are completely unaware of. We want the world to be as big as possible for our scholars--to introduce them to a wide array of opportunities."

Zimmermann said she recruits professionals who represent the CTE programs that IDEA offers, including construction and design, early childhood education, computer science, and entrepreneurship, as well as those from high-growth and critical industries in our region and individuals who are successful in the kinds of jobs IDEA scholars have specifically expressed interest in on surveys.

Upcoming career expos will be held on April 2 and June 11. 

Using Technology to Explore Career Opportunities

In addition to welcoming diverse professionals to IDEA's campus, IDEA's CTE program provides ways for scholars to learn about careers from sources outside of school. 

"We have a virtual job shadow program where scholars take career interest assessments that match them with potential future careers," explained Zimmermann. "On their own, online, scholars can watch video interviews of people working in various fields, find out what education and training are required to work in those fields, and explore salaries for those professions."

This year IDEA is one of a few DC schools participating in an OSSE pilot program that virtually connects industry to the classroom. Five IDEA teachers--Evan Herr and Gabrielle Ciarcia in science, Dennis Chestnut in the Academy of Construction and Design, Heidi Simonsen in math, and Naomi Afari in English--are part of the pilot. Through the DC Career Connections platform, these teachers can access thousands of professionals who are willing to conduct virtual presentations or do Skype interviews about their jobs.

"We are excited to break down the walls between academic classes and the real world, bringing real-world relevance into all of our classes," said Zimmermann. 

Sending Scholars Into the Working World

This spring IDEA seniors will have the opportunity to participate in job shadow day, where they spend a full workday with a professional learning and observing in the workplace. 

IDEA welcomes professionals from in and around DC to participate in all of our career and technical education programs. If you would like to share your career stories with our scholars, contact Andrea Zimmermann at

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