Teachers “Cruise” to Local Businesses

Written by Heather Motter, English Teacher at Cranberry High School

In a perfect world every educator would be aware of what is happening in the business world and vice versa. The relationship between the educational and workforce communities has faced many challenges and changes over the years. Limited time and resources are two factors which have had the greatest impact on this relationship. Fortunately, we are seeing the leaders of these two communities take notice and implement programs to businesses and educators together.

In July, Joe Reinsel, a curriculum specialist from the Riverview Intermediate IU#6 coordinated a two day “Career Cruise”, with assistance from Venango Chamber President Susan Williams.

Educators from local districts, including Oil City, Titusville, East Clarion, Cranberry, Franklin, and Valley Grove, were invited to visit Webco’s Oil City and Reno locations, Komatsu, Liberty Electronics, Oakwood Heights, and UPMC Northwest. We were not only welcomed but treated to an experience which will most certainly have lasting benefits.

The itinerary at each site was similar. We were greeted by company representatives, taken on informational tours, and given the opportunity to speak with employees about their educational backgrounds. Conversation included business advice for future graduates. We saw things we did not know existed in Venango County.

We experimented with a new virtual reality software being developed by Komatsu computer scientists for miner safety, witnessed engineers at Liberty Electronics building devices for our military helicopters to deflect missiles, and watched the innovative production process of tubing at Oil City’s Webco plant.  At both health care facilities we were amazed by the services and level of care available to patients. Did you know that UPMC Northwest’s stroke program was named an Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, and is the region’s only facility to earn that designation?

My takeaway from this valuable experience is that we have no lack of quality job opportunities in Venango County. As for preparing our students for those positions, we need to place a greater emphasis on soft skills. Every company offered their support and services to assist us in this effort. I can now confidently support the Chamber’s “Be Here” initiative and encourage students to consider a career in Venango County. I am extremely grateful to everyone who made this experience possible and look forward to a productive future with my new partners in education.

The Teacher in the Workplace (TIW) program provides the opportunity to connect the classroom to the workplace for K-12 educators in Pennsylvania. Through the TIW program, teachers, counselors, and administrators are provided experiences interacting directly with industry and business leaders to learn about industry trends, needs and opportunities to enhance their classroom instruction, student learning and career readiness. If your business is interested in being included in future tours and programs, please contact the Chamber.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s September 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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