Thursday, April 28, 2016

Building the Future of our Community

Guest Blogger: Mr. Andy LaChance, School to Work Coordinator, School District of Janesville

Image of Seneca Foods WharehouseOn March 28, 2016 local employers from across the greater Janesville area opened their doors to School District of Janesville educators. This effort allowed teachers to connect with the business community, so they can help their students make real-world connections to their classroom experiences. These types of connections and professional development opportunities help educators further improve their practice, continuing their work to educate every child. This partnership allowed 19 teachers the opportunity to learn about area businesses and share that experience with hundreds of students in their Career and Technical Education classes.

One of Janesville’s larger employers, Seneca Foods, invited 17 teachers for a tour and job shadow experience for the day. The facility employs nearly 400 people with a wide range of job duties requiring varying skill sets. The tour allowed teachers to familiarize themselves with plant operations and to envision opportunities to include the experience in lessons for students.

three teachers at seneca foods wearing safety equipment
Left to right: Janesville teachers Devin Yager, (Edison Middle School) Janet Attoe, (Edison Middle School) and Kimberly Lien (Marshall Middle School) keeping Health and Safety at the forefront when touring Seneca Foods.

Janet Attoe, Edison Middle School FACE teacher, enjoyed seeing the Seneca research area where sanitation and packaging procedures are tested and applied to the production line.  She was also impressed with the way they reuse their wash water and have a digester that produces methane gas used to fuel the plant.  

Two prominent local car dealerships, Hesser Toyota and Rock County Honda, invited Jeff Dettman (Parker High School) and Keith Wright (Craig High School) to shadow their automotive repair technicians.  These local dealerships are eager to form a career pipeline with the Janesville School District which should provide opportunities for Janesville’s advanced automotive students to realize direct application of the knowledge gained in the classroom to real world careers.

Image of student welding with proper safety equipmentIn addition to having educators go out into the field, Janesville educators have also invited experienced technicians and skilled trades people into the classroom. Students benefit by having training and mentoring provided by experts in the trade, and teachers benefit by keeping up to date with the latest innovations. Agustin Vasquez, Chris Bush, and Robby Austin from ANGI Energy Systems have been coming to teacher Kirke Utecht’s class at Parker High School, helping student welders learn more about the work and opportunities in this skilled trade.

Additional visits are planned for the upcoming May 6 Staff Professional Development day with local businesses United Alloy, Evonik, and Tigre expressing interest in hosting educators. As they engage local business and continue their own professional development, Janesville educators are expanding options available for students, helping them see the direct real-world relevance to their classroom experience. This is one of the many ways Janesville educators continue to build a stronger future of our community.

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