Archived Story

Educators and business leaders discuss ways to collaborate

Published 8:17pm Tuesday, December 10, 2013

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Business and Innovation Council, Dale Cole, principal of Southside High School, shared a pet peeve of his.

“Not to sound a little bitter,” he said. “Over time, we’ve been to meetings trying to get businesses involved with the schools. I get tired of reading quotes about students not being prepared for the workplace when they are not letting kids in there.”

Cole joined Washington High School Principal Russell Holloman to discuss how schools and businesses could collaborate to prepare more students for the work force. They found a room of business and education leaders willing to play active roles in solving the problem, not complain about the readiness of high school graduates.

The informal brainstorming session covered apprenticeships, internships, improving dropout rates, employment certifications and ways of promoting more interactions with students and businesses.

Pam Pippin, a business owner and human resource specialist, said many businesses had trouble accepting internships because of federal safety regulations.

One of the success stories mentioned was the externship program. Beaufort County Schools’ Stacy Gerard said the district piloted the program last year. Teachers received one paid day during the summer to spend in a business that related to their field of study. They could propose the business and position they were interested in or they could describe what they wanted to learn and Gerard would find a good fit.

“We had 12 CTE teachers take advantage of that,” she said.

The program will be offered again next summer.

Holloman said Washington High School would have several opportunities for students to meet local business leaders in the near future.

“We’re trying to get a flex period every other week. So, twice a month, students can go listen to speakers.”

Holloman is a firm believer in exposing students to career information early. He said his flex periods would be for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

“They’ve got to start learning about it early,” he said. “Career planning has to start by sixth grade, seventh grade when they can start taking courses. It’s about their interests at that point, not necessarily careers.”

Cole said the programs discussed at the meeting were the direction in which schools needed to move.

“We’ve got to get away from how many facts we can cram into their heads. How many facts you have in your head now is irrelevant,” he said. “It’s the willingness to learn.”

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