November 8, 2021--Students need real-world experience if they are going to hit the ground running as a member of the modern workforce. That’s no secret. What isn’t as equally understood is that teachers need real-world experience to set students up for future success.
“This would be that next piece of what happens after a kid graduates. Where do they go next?” asks Dan Mullins, a teacher from Jonesboro High School.
Mullins was one of 18 Jonesboro-area educators who took part in Jonesboro Unlimited’s (JU) Industry Educators Externship. The two-day program gives the participants a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing facilities of today. The teachers get to see the types of careers for students once they graduate, whether from high school or college.
The educators spent two days at Nestle and Hytrol. From laboratory work to assembly lines, they soaked in the experience, knowing it can benefit their students when they are asked the inevitable question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“This would allow you to not talk so generally to your kids about the workforce but to have specific concrete examples to share with them about something they saw,” Mullins said.
“We love to hear that kind of reaction,” said Shelle Randall, JU’s Director of Workforce Development and Existing Industry, “The experience these teachers get is quickly and directly shared with students. That can make a huge difference in what direction a student takes after high school.”
That’s the drive behind the program. The world of modern manufacturing requires people with a spectrum of skills and education. Whether a student wants to start work right after high school or go off to college to get a four-year degree, there’s a place for them in manufacturing.
“This experience showed me that students of all types, whether they are going to college or they want to go straight to the workforce, have opportunities right here in Jonesboro that I did not know about,” said Nettleton educator Ashleaha Farley, “I know the students do not know about them and the advancements they could have if they just knew.”
Shaping and preparing young minds for life beyond graduation is what teaching is all about. The Industry Educators Externship gives educators one more tool for that task.
“What are we preparing them for?” asked Mullins, “Having them ready to go out into the workforce and earn a living even if that is after a four-year college degree, it’s so important to prepare them for that and not just prepare them to be a student.”
“That’s how you develop your workforce,” Randall said, “reaching students through their teachers. Experience creates sharing of stories. Those stories can inspire.”
The secret is out.