Changing the way teachers look at the workplace

Posted by Chamber Communications on Feb 23, 2018

The Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies (GO CAPS) program is designed to connect high school students with real world work experiences, to show them the opportunities and options available to them when they finish school.

Part of that work means also making connections with their teachers, through efforts like the Teacher Externship program. More than 40 of the teachers who participated in last summer’s externship program, representing 18 schools, reconnected on February 15 for the Winter Summit at Mercy. They spent the day interacting with business partners, listening to industry leaders and discussing how they’ve incorporated what they’ve learned into their own classrooms.

The full day of activities included presentations on the future of the externship program, a look at the job market for students from the Missouri Job Center, a look at business development with Missouri State University’s The eFactory, and a panel discussion with representatives from BKD, Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Bass Pro Shops and Tuthill Vacuums & Blower Systems.

But one of the highlights of the day was the Teacher Project Showcase. While 2017 was the third year for the externship program, it marked the first time the teachers were asked to complete a project building on their experience. The educators were encouraged to take what they learned and incorporate that knowledge into their own classrooms for their students.

Teachers took a range of approaches:

  • Students created résumés and sent them to Chase for review and feedback
  • An accounting teacher invited a utility company’s chief financial officer to tell her students about unexpected job opportunities in the accounting field – beyond being an accountant
  • Special education teachers took their students to the Missouri Job Center to acclimate them to the facility and help them use its services
  • After hearing about the importance of soft skills in the workplace, one teacher hosted a Soft Skills Fair for high school juniors and seniors to learn about individual skills in an interactive and engaging way

One teacher shared how one of her students benefitted directly from the program – after staff members from Chase offered tips for better job interviewing in the classroom, this student got his first job and credited the skills he learned from that activity for his success. Hearing stories of projects like this, teachers left the Winter Summit feeling empowered to continue creating new and innovative projects in their own classrooms.

“The Teacher Externship program helps develop our local talent by giving educators an experience that sets them up to be better resources for their students, our future workforce,” said Chamber Workforce Development Coordinator Alex Greiwe, who manages the program. “Teachers spend time interacting with local business leaders – an opportunity they wouldn’t normally get – so they can tell a better story about the Springfield region and what jobs are available locally when they are back in their classrooms.”

Businesses interested in hosting externs and teachers interested in participating are encouraged to apply when registration opens in early March. Registration forms will be available on the GO CAPS website – www.gocaps.org.

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