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Teaching students Real World 101

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Two students will spend time next summer at an Indianapolis manufacturing company, seeing how the lessons they learned in their math and science classes are used to produce tooling and aircraft ground support equipment.

Their teachers already will have spent a week learning from other manufacturers about how to best prepare teens for careers in the industry.

The student internships and teacher training sessions are being paid for with a $126,900 career and technical education grant awarded by the state to the Central Nine Career Center.

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, who were new to Greenwood and Central Nine at the start of last school year, 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, Otte said.

She said officials at Central Nine are working to create an application process that the teachers and students interested in the internships will need to complete.

This school year, Otte wants to have similar conversations with businesses in the health care industry and eventually with those in information technology. In the future, she wants businesses from those industries to host educational forums, similar to the one Endress+Hauser hosted for 300 middle school students and their families in June.

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.

Last school year, DeKoninck spoke with representatives at Endress+Hauser and Community Health Network about the kinds of opportunities they could create for students. In order to prepare students for jobs in their industries, what’s needed now is the chance for students to study careers in manufacturing and health care firsthand, he said.

Last year’s meetings were about grabbing companies’ attentions, DeKoninck said. This year, the goal is to create formal agreements so that students can spend time at the companies and learn more about the skills they need to master, he said.

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