SANFORD - English and social studies teachers dove into the world of business to learn how their academic subjects can help students prepare for successful careers when Central Carolina Works held its summer symposium on June 28 and 29 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.
"Bridging Education and Careers" is an annual event presented by Central Carolina Community College and Central Carolina Works, a dual-enrollment program allowing area high school students to take courses that earn academic credit toward both their high school diploma and college degree.
It brings high school teachers together with business and industry leaders to enhance opportunity for students. Last year, the event was designed specifically for math teachers working in Chatham, Harnett, and Lee counties, the college's service area. This year, the focus was on English and social studies.
"We have some accomplished business leaders participating in this seminar," said Virginia Mallory, CCCC's Director of Secondary Partnerships. "They really understand what's happening in the workforce and what students need to get ahead. We're hoping that teachers will take this insight back to the classroom and help build an even stronger future for their students."
Over the two days, teachers participated in workshops on technical issues like proofreading and editing, visited local companies to see first hand what kind of work is taking place in the region, and learned about something called a "career-focused unit" -- an instructional unit that adapts traditional subject matter to what's required in the workplace.
It all kicked off with a keynote speech by Katy Caselli, founder and president of Building Giants LLC, a corporate training company, who told the teachers that students need to acquire a wide range of general and interpersonal skills to land and keep a good job.
Fewer unskilled workers are being hired on a permanent basis, she said. Instead, companies are adding employees with a solid education and credentials that prove their skills. Permanent hires also need to demonstrate their ability to overcome obstacles, communicate clearly, and contribute broadly to the company.
"Somehow what we have to do is get them to understand the value of education -- even in a manufacturing job," Caselli said about high school students. "Because [jobs] are getting that much more fancy and that much more skilled."
That opening session also included a panel of business leaders explaining what they look for when hiring new employees and how teachers might help students prepare. It kicked off with the importance of those "soft" skills that Caselli touted, and it quickly honed in on communication -- everything from speaking well during an interview to spelling everything correctly in email and reports.
"I miss the days we talked about chicken," said Kelly Arnold, a franchise restaurant operator with Chick-fil-A. "Now we talk about communication."
Other leaders providing their insight to teachers were R.V. Hight of Central Carolina Community College, Jerry Pedley of Mertek Solutions, Kim Sutton of Red Wolf, Daphne Tyler of Harnett County Department of Social Services, and Rosemary Vella of Coty.
Details about Central Carolina Works and a free electronic newsletter it publishes monthly are available at www.cccc.edu/high-school/ccp. More information about Central Carolina Community College is available on its website at www.cccc.edu.
Katy Caselli, founder and president of Building Giants LLC, was keynote speaker as Central Carolina Works held its summer symposium on June 28 and 29 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in Sanford.