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NKC Alternative High School Program Leverages Agilities

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Guest blog by Chris Homiak, Career Facilitator at North Kansas City Schools’ High School Alternative Program  

North Kansas City Schools is an award-winning, growing suburban district that serves over 21,500 students. Our mission as relentless champions for all students is to develop self-aware, authentically empowered, future-ready learners through a rich array of purposeful learning opportunities. 

Partnering with The DeBruce Foundation aligns with our mission and our particular student needs. As Career Facilitators with the High School Alternative Program, we serve students who have previously disengaged from high school because traditional models of education didn’t work for them. We provide our students with 1-on-1 support, exceptional real-world learning opportunities, holistic resiliency services, and in-depth post-secondary planning. All of our staff have benefitted from taking The DeBruce Foundation’s Agile Work Profiler©, learning the Agilities©, and being able to navigate the Career Explorer Tools©, because these are such powerful tools to share with each of our students. 

Many young people lack the language and framing to describe their strengths or set goals for skill development. This is particularly true for those who find themselves in an alternative education setting. offers tools that help students name and claim their competencies, as well as clarify where they need to stretch and grow. As we work to develop confident, adaptable graduates, these are essential tools for our program. 

As a trained Agilities Coach, I use The Foundation’s Career Literacy resources with students when they first join our program. They take the Agile Work Profiler, an online skills and career assessment tool designed to help individuals discover their strengths and interests related to work. Developed through data analysis from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and tested through research, the tool links a person’s interests and what they do well with clusters of work activities known as “Agilities.” These Agilities are used in every job in the workforce in different ways and amounts. After identifying their Agilities, our students focus on their top three as they research careers, write their resumes, talk about themselves in mock interviews, and begin post-grad planning. 

When we engage in Client Connected Projects or Entrepreneurial design processes, students reflect on how they used and/or strengthened their Agilities. At the end of a recent project, a senior shared: “Managing and Developing Others – putting myself in a position of leadership – that was not something I would do voluntarily. But it’s really not that bad. I grew more in communication, because I had to put into words what I wanted, and do that in a professional setting.” Another reflected, “I really got stronger in my Inspecting Agility. I know that paying close attention to the way the seeds are developing can make a huge difference in the long run.”

Throughout their time with us, students and teachers name and celebrate Agilities. Our students learn to leverage Agilities, using them as springboards for storytelling about past experiences that align with the direction they want to grow. North Kansas City Schools Coordinator of Alternative Programs Rene Cooper shared, “The Agile Work Profiler and Agilities spark good conversations and remind students of the things they’ve done in ways that really highlight their skillset. We use it to help strengthen their resumes and prepare them for job interviews.”

This year, we also used the Agilities during a Draw Your Future special breakfast event for Seniors. They named (and drew!) their current reality, desired future reality, and explored how their Agilities will be important in taking the bold steps to get from here to there. This event helped students dream and pivot, using the Agilities as their bridge. Some named how they wanted to become a lawyer, while others clarified how they planned to ask for a raise or start cosmetology school. 

Agilities help students focus on their strengths and embrace a growth mindset. There are many career surveys and personality tests that work to put kids in boxes or narrow their paths. I love that the Agile Work Profiler and Career Exploration Tools work in a more expansive and adaptive way, which fits the economy our students are joining. Through this partnership, students graduate not only knowing themselves better, but more prepared to take their own right next step. 

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