Anyone who doubts the importance of community support in preparing young people for successful futures may not understand the evolving nature of high school education.
The rising cost of higher education and a regional economy that presents some rewarding and well-paid careers that do not require a four-year degree make it vital that High School District 214 provide work-based learning experiences for students. This objective can be met only if businesses and industries and local government entities – many of them – are willing to work with District 214 to offer students on-the-job training, site visits, job shadowing, internships or apprenticeships or to participate in career events or various classroom engagements.
Some 200 Northwest suburban partners are stepping up to this challenge, and the essential formula of school-community partnership was on display on November 6 at the Chevy Chase Country Club in Wheeling, where High School District 214 hosted its fifth annual Industry Partner Recognition Breakfast to recognize and thank these community partners.
"Whether the opportunity for engagement is speaking in our classrooms and career events, supporting our classroom programs as a mentor, or opening your doors to host a student for an extended work-based learning experience,” said District 214 Partnership Manager Kathy Wicks, “we know it's because of you that many of our students have a better idea of knowing what they want to pursue in their future.” Wicks added that these partnerships also help students understand that they can network and reach their social and academic potential before they graduate.
Dr. Lazaro Lopez, District Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, noted the mutual benefit for all involved in these partnerships.
“We're focused on students and their futures and ensuring that they can figure out what it is they want for themselves and supporting their families. That is why this is a place you want to live or move into,” Lopez said. “And guess what? For a majority of these young people that live within (this District), we know that 80 percent of them are still going to live here after they graduate high school.” That, Lopez said, means that it is in the best interest of business owners and local government to help ensure that students have a promising future in the community.
Lopez also lauded the District 214 Board of Education for the hours they devote and for supporting 214’s groundbreaking emphasis and national leadership on redefining readiness – changing the focus of what it means for students to be prepared for their next steps after high school. “What we are doing here is not normal,” Lopez said. “It's not what schools typically did. It wasn't that long ago that all we were focused on were some test scores somewhere, right?”
Also addressing the breakfast were Board Vice President Bill Dussling, Director of Programs and Pathways Megan Knight and District 214 Education Foundation Executive Director Erin Holmes. The keynote address was presented by Natalie Griffin and Amy Philpott, representing Gerry’s Cafe, an in-the-works Arlington Heights cafe that will hire, train and supervise about 30 adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Additionally, the Evans family shared inspiring accounts of the positive impact that District 214’s business partnerships have had on the future of their four children who have special needs.
Any local business or industry or unit of government interested in becoming a partner may contact Kathy Wicks at email@example.com