Following is an article published in the Harrison Press Nov. 3, 2021. Posted with permission from Register Publications
by Halie Barger, staff reporter
Life after high school graduation looks different for everyone. Southwest Local School District recently implemented programming that reflects the differences.
Southwest Local Schools Assistant Superintendent Corinne Hayes discussed the future of the workforce Oct. 26. at The Greater Harrison Chamber of Commerce’s Business at Breakfast session.
In 2018 Hayes, with the help of colleagues, researched background on students in the district. In that research they found that 30% of Harrison High School graduates were not college bound.
“We’re talking about 300 students that were sitting in the high school earning a diploma and graduating without really any prospects for something to do immediately after graduation,” Hayes said.
The district, in response to this information and new graduation requirements, established a career technical education program in the high school that has now grown to offer a variety of industry credentials to students throughout their high school education.
“We realized we needed opportunities for students for work study programs, internships, apprenticeships as well as industry mentors,” she said.
Ohio Department of Education recognizes 13 different career fields, and Hayes said the district worked to identify credentials that were most common across those platforms. Teachers in the school district pursued additional education training to offer the coursework.
Students have seven career pathways at Harrison High School they can choose from: law and public safety, business, biomedical science, engineering, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and workplace leadership.
“By the time they (students) graduate as seniors they have a whole slew of industry recognized credentials under their belts, graduation seals and hopefully work-based learning experience as well,” she said.
Hayes said the district has also implemented a registered pre-apprenticeship program with Ohio State Apprenticeship council. She said the programs have really taken off since implementation.
“Last year we had 762 individual industry recognized credentials that were awarded to students at Harrison High School,” she said.
The school, with the help of ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) funding, was able to invest $1.5 million in college and career readiness, she said. Two maker spaces were built at the middle school and high school and new entrepreneurship curriculum was introduced to the gifted program at the middle school and will be introduced at the high school next year.
This year the Harrison Workforce Committee was also revitalized. Hayes said she is a member of the committee, which is made up of local business owners, school and city officials. The committee will work to connect the schools, higher education organizations and businesses in the community and make sure workers are available in the community.
“Post-pandemic employers are struggling to find qualified workers and we realized we definitely had to move forward with the workforce committee,” Hayes said.
There are many opportunities for partnerships with the school, she said. This past September the school hosted its annual Career Technical Education Day so students could learn more about the opportunities at the high school and at Great Oaks Career Campuses. The school and Greater Harrison Chamber of Commerce also hosted a career fair following the CTE day.
Hayes said every Wednesday the school hosts Work Wednesdays which allows local businesses to set up a table in the cafeteria and hire students. The school also hosts a lunch to learn which sets up a company in the high school’s think tank to educate students on the opportunities available at their company.
“Lunch to Learn is a fantastic recruiting opportunity,” Hayes said.
Hayes said there is also the opportunity for students to participate in internships, mentorships and pre-apprenticeships. To find out how to connect with the school for these opportunities visit www.southwestschools.org.