By Susan Miller

Missourian Managing Editor

The Washington School District kicked off its third Pathways for Teachers program last week.

Educators attended a special program and lunch at the Mercy South Medical Building and then toured GH Tool & Mold.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the Pathways for Teachers program exposes teachers and administrators to industry to help them make quality connections between school and the ever-changing world.

“Our goal is to ensure all of our students are college and career ready, thus we recognize that in today’s world, students must be able to communicate in multiple ways, critically think and problem solve,” she said. “We want to support our teachers as they work to become creative lesson planners and facilitators.”

VanLeer said the kickoff went very well.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to Mercy and GH Tool & Mold for hosting us,” she said. “This is the biggest group of educators we’ve had in our Pathways for Teachers program so to have a great kickoff event is critical to the process going forward.”

VanLeer said Mercy brought in the virtual care professionals to discuss cutting edge technology support systems and the Engagement at Home staff shared information about those services as well.

“We also learned about the various careers in the health/medical industry,” she said. “Meeting at the Mercy added to our experience. I am thankful for their hospitality and the leadership of Eric Eoloff and Dr. Chalk, in addition to their support staff, that assisted us as needed.”

In the afternoon session, the educator group toured GH Tool & Mold, Plant 2, and heard from its engineers, HR professionals and sales professionals.

“The details behind their business model and the work they do was fascinating as well,” VanLeer said. “To see what they do and what they produce helped our staff become aware of the skills needed in the workplace and the detail behind their great company here in Washington.”

At the kickoff, VanLeer shared statistical data from a variety of sources regarding the future of education and the workforce. She also shared what the next six days of training being planned for the group.

VanLeer said Day 2 of training will likely be scheduled for early November and will feature three industry tours.

Day 3 will feature a half-day of industry tours followed by a debriefing and visioning session with the participants, as well as collaboration around lesson plans that integrate career awareness, exploration and relevance.

In the spring, the group will participate in a model schools tour as part of Day 4 training.

Days 5 to 7 will include Project Based Learning through the Buck Institute or an externship with interested businesses followed by lesson planning/curriculum revision or project development time.

VanLeer said she’s thankful for the valued partnerships the district has developed with area businesses over the past two years through this program.

“They take time out of their day to teach us a little bit about their business models, productivity and needs,” she said. “Their participation and ongoing support is so very important.

“It is our desire to learn and ensure our students have the skills and attributes, beyond just knowledge to acquire jobs and earn a living wage to support themselves, their families, thus filling the needs within our community and beyond,” she said.

The Pathways for Teachers program is being funded through a state education grant.

The strands of focus are industrial, manufacturing and engineering; biosciences; business, technology and media; and human services.