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Changing Minds – Changing Career Paths


(Huntsville, Alabama) -Twenty local teachers and guidance counselors got an education of their own as participants in the Summer Technology Institute hosted by Drake State Technical College. The program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation with a goal of teaching educators about the changing roles of technical education in today’s industry. The curriculum of the Summer Technology Institute combines presentations and tours of the Drake State facilities with visits to area industries.

Bridging the gap between education and industry to create meaningful workforce development programs is a driving force behind programs such as Summer Technology Institute. On the Drake State campus, the educators experienced the meaning of hands on training by touring and participating in demonstrations at the technical labs. Participants also interacted with instructors, current students as well as Drake State graduates from a wide variety of technical programs. Educators also participated in open forum discussions about topics relating to general educational requirements and the cultivation of student involvement in the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) areas of study.

“I thought I would be sitting in a class room learning technology things on a computer, which I do need to learn, but this has far exceeded my expectations,” comments Diane Lanza a counselor at Butler High School.

Teachers and guidance counselors play in important role in shaping both the educational performance of the future workforce and the perceptions they have about different industries. Through programs like Summer Technology Institute, Drake State strives to communicate how the programs at technical colleges are constantly evolving to assist local communities in workforce development and preparing graduates for immediate entry into the workplace.

“I was fascinated to understand that college professors struggle with the same things that high school teachers do - the math, the basic reading and communication skills. If I take anything with me it would be those three things to invest in children’s futures. By finding out what their passion is in life, then I can lead them to a good career, one like mine- where they can love what they do. If I can help them find something they truly love to do, I’ve done my job,” was the testimonial delivered by Cathy Williams of New Hope High School.

The educators were given an opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with area workforce development leadership from The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce and The Tennessee Valley Innovation Alliance. Additionally, the group was addressed by Dr. Samuel Addy, Director; Center for Business and Economic Research, The University of Alabama.

The two week program provided opportunities for interaction with professionals from area businesses through tours of area industries such as AdTran, Hudson Alpha Institute, Cinram, Premier Professional Systems and Operon as well as those who addressed the group on campus such as Northrup-Grumman, Mizar LLC, Huntsville Hospital, Bentley Automotive Group and Redstone Federal Credit Union.

“It’s a must have for educators even if you are not in the science field or a technology background, we are still around students every day who are so diverse. We need to be able to give the information that’s in Huntsville” adds Chrysantha Stallworth a biology teacher from Huntsville.

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