Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Program Lets Educators Learn Students' Needs for the Future

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Program Lets Educators Learn Students' Needs for the Future

Article excerpt

In an ever-changing business landscape, educators need to be able to keep their lessons relevant so that their students will have the skills they need to be able to get jobs.

One way to do that is to give teachers insight to what kind of knowledge businesses will want future employees to have.

The Educators Corporations Partnership for STEM Learning brings K-12 educators into the workplace so they can focus their classroom lessons toward helping students enter STEM-related college majors and careers.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Math&Science Collaborative and Partner4Work on Thursday hosted a symposium where schools and businesses in the ECP could share what they learned in the program.

"The goal is to allow those educators to see firsthand what's required in those careers, in terms of the skill set, the education technical skills, soft skills," said Michael Fierle, the director of the collaborative. "Our goal from the collaborative standpoint is to impact learning so that all students get exposed to more authentic learning experiences that are aligned to the world of work."

Mr. Fierle said 40 school districts in several counties in southwestern Pennsylvania have participated in the program, which is funded by state Department of Labor&Industry Teacher in the Workforce grants.

One of the partnerships that presented its findings during the symposium was between Siemens in Mount Pleasant and the Franklin Regional School District. Mary Catherine Reljac, Franklin Regional's assistant superintendent, said the program benefited educators at the school in multiple ways that she hopes will benefit students in turn.

"It helps us to identify how some of the skills we are teaching students are so critically important for them in their future," she said. "It also allowed us to see how each silo in our school district needs to work together in order to make sure that we've developed those connections for students, improve their skills and then develop those opportunities for them to understand what happens in the future."

While the program might not provide immediate results for the businesses involved, it has value for them as well because it plants the seeds for a potential future workforce.

"From the business perspective, a lot of it is making sure we have a good pipeline of people who have the right skills and the interest in science and technology," said Peter Kaup, a quality environment, health and facility manager for Siemens. "I think that has to be developed early. …

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