Program Provides Educators With Insight Into Local Business Climate

Published 10.30.2009


Through funding from the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp., Pennsylvania College of Technology's Outreach for K-12 Office has arranged several tours at local businesses for area educators.

Three "Educator in the Workplace" events are planned in November and December. The program is part of the Gold Medal Initiative, a continuing effort in the central Pennsylvania region to increase communication between the business and education communities, said Jeannette F. Carter, director of Outreach for K-12.

Katherine Lomax, youth coordinator for the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp., said the tours provide an opportunity for business to connect with and support schools, their educators and, ultimately, their students. The organization funds tours in an effort to help schools implement the state's academic standards for Career Education and Work, which the group believes can help provide the vital foundation for a healthy and skilled future workforce.

Educators from K-12 schools throughout the 10-county region served by the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp. are invited to an evening tour of a local business, where they receive an overview of the company's operations.

"These tours allow educators to engage with local businesses without interfering with the daily classroom schedule; educators are able to incorporate real-life examples of how reading, writing, math and science are used in the workplace," Lomax said.

The teachers learn about the company in general and about its workforce: the type of workers for which the company is looking and the workplace requirements. The businesses discuss all workers, from entry level to advanced positions, in all aspects of their companies, from sales to production.

The tours also open dialogue for further collaboration with educators, including setting up tours or work-shadow opportunities for their students.

The Educator in the Workplace tours began in the spring, with nine events attended by approximately 175 educators. Events were held across the region, from State College to Berwick to Kreamer, and encompassed hospitals, manufacturers and food purveyors.

"The Educator in the Workplace was a great opportunity to see how local businesses are run and what qualities they are looking for in a person that they want to hire for an internship in their company," said Carmella Franco, a health and physical education teacher at Bloomsburg Middle School. Franco attended all nine spring events.

"It is very important, as an educator, to find out what the job market is looking for so we can guide our students in the right direction," she said. "That is what Educator in the Workplace provided for all the educators who toured these businesses. As a health and physical education teacher, I don't really have much to do with job training, but I can help the students live healthier lives so that, some day, they can find the job they really enjoy and can physically do for a very long time."

"Not only was the tour itself very informative, but the presentation by the employees and their enthusiasm for their work was exciting," said Carole Connolley, business/organization liaison for Central Columbia School District, of a tour at DeLuxe Building Systems in Berwick. "I came away from that evening with a whole new understanding and appreciation for the scope of the business done at DeLuxe Building Systems."

The participating businesses also gain from the interaction.

"Businesses benefit in the short term by exposing educators and students to the economic value the business provides to the local area," Lomax said. "Businesses benefit in the long term by helping to shape the career education, career interests and work habits of many students in the region."

The next Educator in the Workplace Tour is scheduled at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College on Nov. 10. Educators may visit online to register.

To learn more about services provided by the Outreach for K-12 Office at Penn College, visit on the Web or call 570-320-8003. For information about Penn College, visit online , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.