Most educators recognize that school-business partnerships can engage students more deeply in learning and also give them opportunities to explore careers. For many, however, identifying employers and structuring partnerships is often easier said than done.
That’s why educators attending a workshop on creating partnerships last month found the opportunity to make contacts and get tips from presenters particularly useful.
“Businesses and schools don’t know how to talk to each other,” said Eric Hewitt, Principal at Riverview Junior-Senior High School. “One thing that was so successful about this event was bringing in groups that serve as middlemen, like the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) and Catalyst Connection.”
The fact that these intermediaries can facilitate connections with multiple businesses, “makes them very valuable,” he added.
In collaboration with ABC CREATE, the Consortium designed and organized the workshop for districts involved in a PAsmart grant project that ABC CREATE is leading on Leveraging Education to Accelerate Diversity and Success. The goal is strengthening STEM and STEAM learning opportunities in their schools and communities and ensuring accessibility for all students.
As part of the grant, we organized the workshop around presenters who could bring insights from the perspectives of nonprofits, businesses, and post-secondary institutions that have partnered with K-12 schools in various ways, particularly to support STEM-related learning and career exploration. In addition to GAAC and Catalyst Connection, more than a half dozen other organizations presented their partnership opportunities.
Among other insights, presenters offered ideas about structuring partnerships, integrating them into existing school schedules and activities, ensuring benefits for all participants, and making them fun, engaging, and meaningful.
Workshop attendees also participated in structured discussions that Consortium staff facilitated around:
- Act 158, a new set of graduation standards that is expected to get high schools more involved in partnerships
- Student career plans
- Project-Based Learning and how it can be used in Work-Based Learning experiences; and
- Social and Emotional Learning as a part of career and workforce development
The Consortium will provide Educator in the Workforce opportunities this summer to further support ABC CREATE’s PAsmart grant project.