6/21/2018 – Hired Education allows teachers, administrators to learn about local manufacturing

Posted on: June 21st, 2018 by admin


June 21, 2018


Virginia Annable
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Joshua Smith plans to change the way he teaches and talks to his students about their careers.


After three days touring six companies around Caldwelll County with a group of 31 other educators, Smith decided he needed to help his students see the good opportunities available to them, and get rid of the mindset that manufacturing jobs are bad.


“We can flip the script and show them there is a path to great jobs in the county,” he said.


The educators visited these businesses as part of the Hired Education program run by the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission and the Caldwell County Schools. The annual program aims to open the eyes of teachers who are molding the minds of the next generation, said Caldwell County EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray.


“We need to … inform our educators about our business community,” Murray said. “Our educators are the ones who inspire our youth.”


Teachers from high schools, middle schools and the community college visited McCreary Modern Inc., a furniture manufacturer; Exela Pharma Sciences, a pharmaceutical company; NEPTCO, a plastics and adhesives manufacturer; Caseworx, which uses computer design and machinery to build custom cabinets; Bemis Manufacturing, which makes plastics; and RPM Wood Finishes Group. The three-day program concluded with a luncheon where the teachers talked about what they learned.


The point is to show teachers how the local economy has changed, the new types of jobs that are available and the various opportunities out there for their students, and help them know how to better prepare students for the workforce.


Smith said one of his biggest takeaways was how well workers are trained and paid at companies so close to home.


“We were all a bit floored and impressed that high school graduates can be employed so well,” he said.


To prepare his students for manufacturing jobs, he plans to emphasize the importance of math and communication skills.


For Misty Key, who has been at Hudson Middle School since 1996, seeing all the advanced manufacturing so close to home was shocking.


“I saw things I’ve never seen around here,” Key said. “This is something that’ll have an impact on me for the rest of my career.”


Key said she realized it’s part of her job to help students and parents who are still in a “2010 mindset,” stuck thinking that manufacturing jobs were unreliable and not well paid, as many thought after the Great Recession.


Key said she wants to focus on teaching students people skills, letting them know about mentorship programs and increasing communication with local industry.


Ethan Ostwalt, a math teacher at Caldwell Career Center Middle College, said he plans to add a unit on the practical math that people use in manufacturing jobs. He hopes if his students are prepared, they’ll be more open to the jobs local companies are offering.


“The fact is that this is a great place to live and work,” Ostwalt said. “They really can have the job they’re dreaming of close to home.”

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