Alliance teams offer snapshots of their community partnerships

Teams participating in our Future Ready Alliance gathered in April to discuss partnerships aimed at helping students explore and prepare for post-secondary education and careers. Their meeting also provided opportunities for interested schools and districts to meet with representatives of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory to assess how well their curricula are aligned with job requirements in two of the region’s key industries—healthcare and energy. 

Three teams showcased partnerships from the past year—Greensburg Salem, South Allegheny and Woodland Hills school districts.

At Greensburg Salem, one partnership involves a local machine shop. The company has created a small apprenticeship program for district students and worked with a physics class to help kids put abstract principles into practice. Secondary Education Coordinator Ken Bissell told attendees at the Alliance meeting the district also has continued bringing business representatives into its schools on a regular basis to discuss careers and has worked with the City of Greensburg’s administrator on projects to give students voice in their community and put their ideas to work solving problems.

At Woodland Hills, representatives from UPMC East and accounting firm Schneider Downs have taken on the role of sponsors, sending volunteers into 3rd and 4th grade classrooms to work with students. The district also is working with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Restorative Justice to offer programs on conflict resolution and with Pitt’s Center for Urban Education, said Lauren Weisser, an Assistant Principal in the district.

Although educators often seem somewhat daunted at the prospect of forming community and business partnerships, “one thing I’ve noticed is the amazing resources that exist in Pittsburgh if you just get the word out,” she said, noting that some of the partners now supporting Woodland Hills “came to us.”

Partnerships also blossomed at South Allegheny after the district put together a list of the top 100 companies in Westmoreland County and organized a “Classrooms to Careers Day” for an in-service day earlier this year. The goal was to “help teachers understand what they’re teaching in the context of the employment world,” said acting Superintendent Alyssa King.

Alliance teams will reconvene in June to report out on projects they’ve taken on during the past year to ensure that students K-12 are getting age-appropriate opportunities and experiences needed to become “future ready.”