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Editorial: Real-world experiences elevated by partnership

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In an increasingly complex and rapidly changing workplace, it is important for students to understand that education is vital to long-term success. They need to see how the lessons they learned in math and science classes are used every day in industry.

Central Nine Career Center recently received a state career and technical education grant designed to help students make that connection. The grant will pay for teacher training and to help the school arrange students internships with state-of-the-art manufacturers.

Officials from both Central Nine and Greenwood schools have been looking for ways to partner with manufacturing, health care and information technology businesses in central Indiana.

The goal has been to find ways to provide real-world, on-the-job experience for area high school students.

Last fall, Greenwood Superintendent Kent DeKoninck and Central Nine Career Center assistant director Nicole Otte began meeting with representatives from area manufacturers and hospitals, asking them to consider providing internship or job shadowing opportunities for students.

DeKoninck and Otte knew that high school students needed more math and science training before graduating in order to qualify for jobs in manufacturing, health care and information technology. If companies and businesses would commit to providing training, that could show students how the lessons they’re taught are valuable and motivate them to take more rigorous courses, they said.

Those meetings are starting to pay off. Over the summer, Central Nine received the grant, which will help provide paid internships for two area high school students at Major Tool & Machine in Indianapolis.

The grant also will help provide six, weeklong, unpaid manufacturing internships for local teachers, who will learn more about the skills their students need to master to succeed in manufacturing.

This school year, Otte wants to have similar conversations with businesses in the health care industry and eventually with those in information technology.

DeKoninck also wants to start creating more formal agreements with manufacturers and health care providers so that Greenwood students can get more hands-on training and experience.

“I need (them) to tell me how can we both work together to make that happen,” he said.

These kinds of partnerships will pay significant dividends for both students and industry. Students will see directly how classroom lessons apply in the real world. Businesses benefit from a better trained workforce, one that can adapt to changing needs.

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