MOUNT GILEAD — Leigh Conant of CENTURY 21 Gold Standard led a lively panel discussion with educators at the April 16 Chamber of Commerce luncheon on the topic “Connecting today’s students with tomorrow’s employers.”
Several of the educators, who came from all four corners in the county, spoke about the value of teaching life skills or “soft” skills in special classes and as part of the day-to-day work in classrooms. Unfortunately, they said some of these skills aren’t learned at home.
Gerry Hartman, Jobs for Ohio Graduates (JOGs) instructor at Mount Gilead High School spoke about the need to encourage students to have work options after high school. They look at options like the military, work possibilities, and life after high school.
“In our basic class we talk a lot about communication, writing resumes and how to interview,” said Hartman who instructs 75 students in the JOGs program.
In Hartman’s “Transitions for seniors” class, cooking, car maintenance, how to keep a checkbook and other practical lessons are taught.
Highland Principal Nate Huffman said they have a Senior Capstone class that focuses on “soft” skills such as how to be on time, leadership and interview practice. Huffman said that Highland is fortunate to have two retired military men who teach leadership skills as well as the ROTC program.
Cardington Superintendent Brian Petrie said all students aren’t meant for a four year college education. He added that it is a challenge keeping youth here in the county since there aren’t always jobs for them here when they graduate. He said 15 to 20 percent of their students have disabilities and the high school includes them in programs and classes as much as possible.
“Practical application is important for students in knowing what’s in it for them,” Petrie said.
Northmor Principal Ben Bethea said his background is in working with kids who have special needs. He said some of them have had studies pushed on them, which Is a disservice.
“Ohio education is focusing less on academics recently and more on the whole person,” Bethea said.
Gilead Christian High School Principal Bryan Potteiger agreed and said many students don’t have the drive to go to college. Pioneer Technical School educator, Mary Lee Barr said that technology in recent years is much more advanced in the 39 programs at Pioneer. Students can go right into well-paying jobs after graduation with adequate technical skills.
Chamber members had a few minutes to respond to talk about skills they value when they interview and hire. Sentinel Editor Anthony Conchel said versatility and flexibility are traits that are needed in work environments. “Are people willing to take on multiple tasks in the job?” he asked.
Dan Boysel of Consolidated Cooperative said attitude is something he looks at when hiring. He said integrity and a resume that shows a student leader are vital.