Jim Cowden column: Preparing students for 21st century careers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

As a sixth-grader, did you know what you wanted to do when you graduated from high school?
Years ago, popular careers were carpenter, doctor, lawyer, nurse, secretary or teacher. Today’s sixth-graders may wish to be a computer engineer, database administrator, pharmacist or writer.
It is not uncommon for us to change our career paths many times in our lifetime. When we take classes in higher education, we hope to focus on a career path that will match our interests and expectations, but sometimes we are challenged to do this.
The Rowan Partners for Education’s Reduce the Dropout Rate committee has partnered with the Rowan-Salisbury School System and local business community to encourage students to stay in school and graduate. The “Stay in School” initiative plans to reach all sixth-graders in Rowan County.
Adults will lead students through an interactive engagement and career exploration. A team of two adults will facilitate the discussion in each classroom. Presentation will be 30 minutes in length.
More business facilitators are needed to accomplish this initiative. Employees from all levels are needed, including technicians, specialists, owners and support staff.
If interested in being a member of the facilitation teams, contact me at 704-216-8972 or jim_cowden@ncsu.edu
Training of facilitation teams will be provided. The next training is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 18, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the Agricultural Center, 2727 Old Concord Road, Salisbury.
Another major event the Rowan Partners for Education is planning is the second annual Education Summit. It will be Thursday, Feb. 26, from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Event Center, Cornerstone Campus, 315 Webb Road, Salisbury. Respond by Feb. 16 to LWooten@EducateRowan.org or 704-642-0700.
The program will be a model classroom demonstration featuring Rowan-Salisbury School System’s 21st century classroom teachers. These teachers are focusing their efforts, using 21st century technologies, to ensure students will be successful citizens and workers in the 21st century.
The 21st century students will gain skills in problem solving, collaboration, teamwork, technology literacy and other unique opportunities.
Other teachers in the school system will have the opportunity to link up with the 21st century classrooms through virtual tours and podcasts. The goal is to have all classrooms become 21st century places for teaching and learning in the near future.
Rowan Partners for Education also offers Rowan-Salisbury schoolteachers and Communities in Schools staff the opportunity to shop for free classroom supplies. Called Educators’ Express, all of the resources are kept in a mobile unit on the campus of East Rowan High School. Teachers are asked to make an appointment before coming to shop (704-642-0700 or info@EducateRowan.org). Hours are 2:30-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Educators’ Express is always looking for donated items. Please view the EducateRowan.org Web site to see a list of needed items. Volunteers to help at the mobile unit are needed, too.
This is only a small snapshot of the many teaching and learning initiatives that are under way in Rowan County. The good teachers and principals of Rowan County are enthusiastically providing the best education possible for students. They can’t do it alone, needing the support of parents and the community working with them.As technology changes so quickly today, the jobs of tomorrow have not been discovered. Students need to stay in school to be prepared for those jobs when they are available.
James C. Cowden is Rowan County Cooperative Extension director.

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