Why Education

I remember traveling to my student-teaching assignment at Madison Memorial High School. I grew up in the then small town of Verona so practicing my craft at an enormous school like Memorial made me a bit more apprehensive. To make matters worse, Pink Floyd’s song, “We Don’t Need No Education”, was blasting on my radio. Every fall that scene comes back into my mind as the school year gets rolling.

The Portage County Business Council (PCBC) recently honored outstanding educators in our school districts through our annual Golden Apple Awards. We are blessed in our community to have such quality instructors. In the audience were teachers ranging from brand new to those with over fifteen years of experience. We also had businesses, school board members, administrators, higher education representatives and many other groups represented.

Our education system is critical to all that is great about Portage County.

Part of the role of PCBC is to connect education with business and government and we do it with pride. Right out of the chute this fall, we will be working with a regional effort to educate our eighth grade students regarding all of the benefits in the manufacturing field. When parents and people my age remember what manufacturing was like when we were growing up, it is much different than what takes place now. Many manufacturing floor rooms are spotless.

The Heavy Metal Tour on October 3 will open students’ eyes to all of the exciting changes in the industry. Under the leadership of the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and in partnership with Mid-State Technical College (and other northern technical colleges), the Heavy Metal Tour will take students to a few area manufacturing businesses and include a briefing from Mid-State Technical College. PCBC is part of the planning team that makes this happen throughout north central Wisconsin.

During the school year, PCBC will be bringing volunteers from the business community into classrooms to work with students through a variety of programs. They range from simple in-class presentations by people from the business community to reality workshops where students have to work within a limited budget and a specific career, better known as our reality workshops.

PCBC offers Inspire which is an online engagement tool for 6th-12th students to do career exploration. Businesses enter their information into Inspire and students can communicate and connect with local businesses (and eventually businesses in the whole state) through the portal. They can learn more practical information about their specific interests within a business setting, find out what jobs are available, set up a tour of a business, inquire about internships or connect with an employee, to name a few. Parents can also interact with their son and daughter through the student profile. With careers and life changing at a rapid pace, it is important to stay on top of opportunities and changes in the job world.

Business leaders also volunteer to partner with students through mock interviews. Students will do in-class work before and after the actual interviews. The business leaders conduct one-on-one interviews and then discuss with the students the questions and answers. It is great to see the young men and women dressed for the part. Their nervousness is palpable and the benefits are tremendous.

The beginning of the school year is a fresh start for so many. Access to resources continues to improve in our community. Take full advantage of them. And be careful what you listen to on the radio!

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