ON-THE-JOB LEARNING Teachers go into the workplace to better help their students

Teachers and businesses are collaborating on educating the work force of the future.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Eleven Lawrence County teachers will be educated in the workplace this summer.
Teachers from five Lawrence County schools and employers from 10 businesses will participate in the fifth annual Educator in the Workplace program.
Lawrence County School-To-Work Inc. established the program and conducted an orientation and training meeting recently at the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation on Margaret Street in New Castle.
"It's a program where an educator is placed with an employer for four days," said Kristin Durst, program director. "Teachers are required to develop a lesson plan from the experience."
"They get some type of experience where they can take something from the workplace and teach it to their students," she added. "It's to make students more qualified and skilled in the different trends in the work force."
Joining in: Businesses taking part in the program this year include WHOT-FM 101, Jameson Health System, New Castle Industries, Lark Enterprises, Brindle Printing, Neighborhood Ministries, Wise Foods, All American Rental Center, Troyer Farms and Living Treasures.
Marsha Karidis of Cranberry, Pa., who teaches computer literacy and business math at Mohawk High School, participated in the program last year, working at Ellwood City Forge.
"I learned so much about the company itself," Karidis said. "I worked directly with the human resources, accounting and information technology departments."
Karidis was able to impart to her students what employers look for in their employees and the importance of math skills and computer literacy.
"Students ask, 'Why do I have to learn this?' and I'm able to give them solid examples," she said.
Karidis believes the program helps prepare students for the future.
"It brings back real-life experiences and real-life examples," she said. "Anything you can bring to the classroom that is real life makes it worthwhile to the students."
This year Karidis will spend time at Lark Enterprises in New Castle, a vocational rehabilitation facility that trains people with disabilities to participate in the work force. Lark has participated in the School-To-Work program for the past few years.
Valuable: Alice Sankey, Lark chief executive, said that Educator in the Workplace is useful for students and teachers, and she's looking forward to participating in it this year.
"By having educators see what we do on a daily basis gets word out on what we do and the vocational skill training we do with clients," Sankey said.
Part of a national School-To-Work program, Lawrence County School-To-Work is a nonprofit organization funded by the state, donations from businesses and service fees from participating school districts. The organization coordinates mentorships, shadowing experiences, guest speakers, company tours and mock interviews for the eight public schools in Lawrence County.

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