7-19-2019 – Link seen between business, education

Posted on: July 19th, 2019 by admin


July 19, 2019



By Garrett Stell


Jul 19, 2019 12:00 AM


Teachers can be a key to helping students learn about the variety of careers available in Caldwell County, a group of them were told Thursday by local business community leaders.


The group took part in a daylong event, Hired Education, organized by the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission. Participants went on tours of various businesses to see many of the career fields, and during lunch at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center they heard a panel discussion with representatives from the businesses.


EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray said the teachers’ firsthand experience seeing the career options is vital to communicating with the students.


“If you have never seen it, you can’t describe it,” she said.


Krista Bridgwood, human resources director at Bemis Manufacturing Company, which makes a variety of plastic products, said that now is the time to strengthen the bonds between schools and businesses.


“We are planning for the future as the older generation begins to retire,” she said. “The school system and employers have a shared interest in these students. We want to be a resource for the school system that bridges the gap between being a student and being an employee.”


She said that bridge might involve community college, university training or just a move directly into the workforce. But the ease of passage depends on teachers showing their students what will be expected of them at the next level.


Dr. David Lowry, chief medical officer at Caldwell Memorial Hospital, said that teachers can dispell misconceptions about the skills that are required for specific careers.


“Health care is not just about doctors and nurses,” he said. “Almost any discipline has a health care use.”


He described how music and the arts are used in hospice care, computer skills and programming help with cybersecurity at hospitals, and data analysis is relevant in almost every position. Lowry also mentioned summer internship programs that are available to high school students.


Because high school students can graduate from Caldwell County Schools with certification to be a nursing assistant, they can go right to work even while they pursue further education, he said. Within just four years of finishing high school, a student could be ready to start on a master’s degree in nursing or a nursing education degree.


William Howard, a vice president at Bernhardt Furniture, said his company needs “all types of kids coming to us from the school system.”


“You’re the key to the prosperity of the county,” he said.


And Misty Lawrence, a former educator who now is training and development manager at Stallergenes Greer, an allergy pharmaceutical maker, said the teachers can show students how things they learn in school have real-world applications.


Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps called the event a success and said he wants to see relationships with businesses get more directly involved in the classrooms.


“I would love to have every business owner put together a quick 45-second video to show what their jobs are like,” he said. “So many jobs go into the making of any one product, and we want to open eyes and broaden perspectives.”


Darrell Pennell, the chairman of the Caldwell County Board of Education, said that it’s good for people to be reminded of the opportunities that are nearby.


“A student in Caldwell County can graduate, stay here, get a great job, earn a great wage and raise a family,” he said.


Reporter Garrett Stell can be reached at 828-610-8723.

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