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TWINSBURG -- Incoming Tiger freshmen will see a variety of low-cost and free programs aimed at introducing various career paths, when the "Twinsburg Academy" rolls out in 2017-18.
Norm Potter, Twinsburg City School District curriculum supervisor, outlined the Twinsburg Academy to the Board of Education Feb. 1.
Participating students can choose from one of three career pathways: business and manufacturing; health care and administration; and human performance and recreational management, Potter said. The avenues are expected to overlap.
"Initially we had three separate academies, but as we discussed (that) when trying to build this, we thought it better to call them pathways because there will be a lot of intertwining between them," Potter said. "Even if you decide to run a physical therapy business, which is highly medical, you still need to know how to run a business."
The committee that helped plan the Twinsburg Academy included Twinsburg High School Principal Louise Teringo and its assistant principals, administrative staff and high school business teachers.
Participation in the Twinsburg Academy will be optional, Potter said.
Programs include supplemental seminars, monthly academy meetings, a suggested course sequence, volunteer opportunities, workplace visits, potential shadowings, internships and summer opportunities, which could include a two-day summer camp in June through Ahuja Medical Center.
The summer camp will cost the district about $264 to transport all the students to Ahuja, Potter said.
There will be an upper classmen avenue to the academy as well, with "Twin Talks" that feature speakers on different business and careers.
Participating groups and businesses -- many from here in Twinsburg -- include Dr. Pepper Snapple Group; the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission; Magnet Group; Mentor Yacht Club; the Mid-American Conference; Ohio Center for Sports Psychology; Rockwell Automation; Twinsburg Parks and Recreation; the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce; the village of Reminderville; and University Hospitals, Ahuja Medical Center, Potter said.
There is talk that higher education institutions could become part of the programming, as well.
Last spring, the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce approached the district about participating in an initiative with manufacturing companies to help address employment needs. The idea stuck, through its various incarnations, and the Twinsburg City School District now aims to help the students gain the skills needed for the workforce and expose them to the career options.
"We don't even know what kind of jobs there will be 10 years down the line," Superintendent Kathryn Powers said. "So it's really important for our district remain current to the needs of our community, to our businesses and organizations who look for employees, and also to provide our students the opportunities to consider what kind of opportunities are currently available and how they can use those opportunities to build skills, so when they are ready to go to college or a career or the military, they have a lot of tools available in their kit."
Potter said employers look for skills that are often missing from young applicants.
"In talking with our partners they told me several things about getting kids to volunteer," Potter said. "When they ask for high school kids to come volunteer at an event, 10 high school kids sign up, and they expect three to show up.
"That's part of our talk, committing to your work. There are things that consistently come up in every business. They need to read and write better; they need to show up for work on time; they need to work when they get there; and they need to pass a drug test. They said if you can do these things for us, then we are on board. One of the companies I've talked to said ... that's 25 percent of the people they have either interviewed or hired. That is amazing to me. I don't understand that, but that is something we have to work on."
Potter said he hopes students can meet loftier goals as well.
Board of Education member Rob Felber said the proposal is "a tremendous first start" and will help the district's students prepare for the workforce.
"I see a lot of juniors and seniors in college," Felber said. "And colleges are just now starting to discover the importance of requiring internships. Some haven't thought about internships until late their junior year. They are missing the boat. For them to get exposed to what they may or may not like is critical. To fast forward that four years earlier to high school students is tremendous."
The Twinsburg Academy can also help students network with professionals in their fields, said Board member Tina Davis.
"I think it's great the Twin Talks is offered to upperclassmen, too, because it can give them a taste of their different interests, and it can provide them a network," Davis said. "I can see many kids I know, including my daughter for one, taking advantage to these Twin Talks."
Board President Mark Curtis said he felt the program represented "forward thinking."
"This is a good transition for where the world of academics is going," Curtis said. "This is a good transition where things are going in the world of education. There is always an academic component but what tends to get lost is the career piece. If you aren't involved on my end at the CVCC, oftentimes you don't have these opportunities before you end up going to college. You end up in the position of going down (a certain) road, and senior year you realize this isn't what you want to do and you've dropped $40,000.
"I think this is an excellent opportunity for our kids to get some exposure. I like the fact we are being sensitive about the cost as well."