By Dianne Lively Yost
Morgan County educators have been hosting a series of meetings with local businesses to get feedback from future employers about required skill sets for entry level working and to inform businesses plans for Morgan County’s College & Career academy, Mentoring One Morgan and other work-based learning initiatives.
Local businessman Mike Conrads and volunteer and Morgan County School Superintendent Dr. James Woodard along with other school staff have been hosting the meetings.
At a meeting last week, educator Stacy Dearing provided an overview of the Mentoring One Morgan program. She said M1M has been coordinating mentoring efforts at all levels with the school district for four years. Dearing said there are currently 30 people volunteering in the program, “but we need more people.”
“They are invested in these kids futures,” said Dearing. She especially noted the work of local Madisonian and businessman Ed Latham, who has helped two mentees graduate high school and go onto college. He worked with these children starting in second grade and continues to talk with them regularly today. “We are indebted to him. He’s an amazing man,” Dearing said.
With the college and career academy, the mentoring program will expand dramatically but will be more focused on a career path, according to Merritt Ainslie who coordinates the Work Based Learning and Youth Apprenticeship Program.
During eighth, ninth and tenth grades, students should begin exploring career interests and taking courses in the academic and technical areas that help lay the foundation for their future career. By the eleventh and twelfth grades, students can pursue work experience through Work-Based Learning Program.
In addition, the school is focusing of future student success with its KA$H program (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Habits) which is a cultural program designed to focus on soft skills that begins in each classroom K through 12 with age-appropriate terms, concepts and practices on a weekly basis.
During the meeting last week, businessman David DiRocco of Madison’s REMA TIP TOP brought up an issue his company might encounter with worker’s comp requirements and work-based learning.
Through collaboration with businesses and fellow educators, Dr. Woodard and Conrads are working to come up with solutions that will address roadblocks such as the worker’s comp issue.
“Dream a little bit and let’s talk. Think,” said Conrads, who suggested the idea of forming a separate organization that would employ/allow eligible students to work in manufacturing environments as paid contractors to get hands-on experience.
Dr. Woodard specifically pointed to a work-based learning program in Carrollton, Ga., with the local high school and South Wire Company. He showed attendees a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U936uSj-N7o) highlighting the program and demonstrating its continued success.
To volunteer for Mentoring One Morgan, contact Stacy Dearing at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Dr. Woodard at the Morgan County Charter School System’s School Board office for more information about work-based initiatives at 706-752-4600.