Orissa Adams, the dean of students at the William D. Kelley School, is working to provide her students with as many resources as possible while on a limited budget. She was recently awarded a $500 grant toward start-up funds from the Philadelphia Writing Project to launch The William D. Kelley Career Exploration Program. The program was created to help students gain awareness of their future career choices and to aid in setting realistic, achievable goals.
“The children are asked to complete a personality assessment, choose a maximum of five careers, research the careers and educational requirements needed for the career and complete a fictional resume,” Adams said.
In addition to those requirements, the students will also study interviewing skills and techniques and complete a mock interview with nearby business owners.
“Interviewing will be a part of all their lives even when applying for high schools and internships therefore, I think it is important for them to learn correct way to interview now,” Adams said.
Adams purchased over five different books for each student in addition to reflective journals that they will keep throughout the program. In April, the program will end with a career fair put together by the students and will be followed by a presentation to the Philadelphia Writing Project members in May.
Adams has been working in the school district since 1989 and is extremely passionate about the William D. Kelley youth.
“I was that student who needed information broken down to me, and this is how I taught my classroom. I did not assume anything with my students,” Adams said.
Her refusal to allow her students to “cop out” or “take the easy road” paid off. In her first year at the school, she doubled her students’ PSSA scores.
“I love children they are my life. I cannot envision doing anything else except empowering, educating, and enlightening them,” Adams said.
As a self-proclaimed product of Philadelphia’s public school system, Adams said that she was one of those students who actually succeeded. She never envisioned attending college, but she earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees.
“As a school, we are working hard for our babies here at the Kelley School with limited resources. We want positive support systems in place so that all of our children can be successful,” Adams said.
Haniyyah Sharpe, a Temple University senior whose student organization volunteers with the students after school on Thursdays, said she fully supports the program.
“I’m a Philadelphia native and I think our kids need programs like Orissa’s. What she’s doing with her students is phenomenal. It’s never too early to begin preparing our youth for their bright futures,” Sharpe said.
If you would like to make a donation or volunteer, please contact Orissa Adams at the William D. Kelley School, located at 1601 N. 28th St., at 215-684-5071.