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Edison Works aims to connect students with employers

Cary Ashby • Sep 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM

MILAN — Edison Local Schools is doing more to connect its students with local businesses. The process of creating the Edison Works program started with the teachers.

Curriculum director Dean Stanfield said the district realized there was a “disconnect” between the business industry and what the students knew.

“We have students who can’t find jobs,” he added.

Stanfield was attending a professional seminar called “Grow Your Own Work Force” in which he said the main message was “companies can’t find employees.”

“We really need to have conversations with businesses,” he said.

And so was born the Edison Works program, which is aimed at preparing students for success.

Superintendent Tom Roth said while Edison students do well academically, “there’s that group in the middle” that don’t find any of the programs offered at EHOVE Career Center that interest them and may not want to go to college.

“They want to graduate and go out and get a job,” he added. “This is going to help that group of students. We want them to be successful.”

On Aug. 18, all the district teachers — from preschool through high school — went on a field trip to tour five area employers: Borgers Ohio Inc., Freudenberg, CertainTeed Corp., Chef’s Garden and the NASA Plum Brook station. The teachers learned what each business does and how each one operates.

The educators returned from the tours “like kids on a field trip,” Stanfield said. “They came back and they were excited.”

In fact, since each teacher only went to one work site, many said the teachers wanted to return and see more. The educators were ready to start partnering with the employers immediately, but district officials said while Edison Works is a “wholistic approach” to partnering with businesses, it’s going to take “baby steps.”

Abbey Bemis, executive director of the Erie County Economic Development Corp., said each of the business are “global employers” and students need to learn how to relate to people from other countries. Also, she said for students to excel at work, they need to learn proper communication skills — anything from talking on the phone to understanding someone’s tone of voice, to knowing that phrases in English might not mean the same thing in another country.

“I think it really comes back to that communication piece,” Bemis added.

Employers also informed the district that while good communication is extremely important, they also want to see students master teamwork, promptness and “people skills.”

Edison High School counselor Elisa Brown said students need to know what employment is available in the area and the Aug. 18 tours informed teachers about what each of those five employers offer.

“We want them to come back and raise their families,” she said.

Brown is grateful for the enthusiasm from the employers and what they can do for the district.

“We want to thank all our business partners for opening up their doors to the entire Edison staff and being a part of the Edison team,” the counselor said.

Roth agreed with Brown, saying the path to success after graduation “can’t start their junior year.”

“We have to start in preschool,” Roth said. “If we start them young, it can grow down the road.”

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