Have Your Teachers Been Disappearing?

TAHS teachers have been visiting local businesses to learn more about workplace ready skills

High school principal Tom Yoder is impressed by the sights and smells at Gardner’s Candy.

Since early November, teachers at Tyrone High School have been randomly disappearing. A morning here. An afternoon there.

What is the reason for this? Don’t they understand that students need to turn in work?

Truth is, these teachers aren’t just skipping class.

They are on the flip side of teaching. The teachers are being taught.

What I’ve learned is that there are more job opportunities in our students’ backyards than many people realize. There are some really good companies to work for right in and around Tyrone

— Todd Cammarata

A handful of Tyrone educators are leaving the building to participate in a project called “Educator in the Workplace.”

The district applied for and received a $40,000 grant to create partnerships between educators and employers in the area.

Through this grant, teachers have had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of some of Blair County’s most successful businesses, including many that employ Tyrone graduates and even current students, to find out what opportunities exist for Tyrone graduates and what these businesses are looking for in their future employees.

According to the grant application, the main objective of the project is to “develop partnerships between administrators, educators, and local businesses that will help students succeed in postsecondary education and the workplace…by creating a vital link between classroom learning and ‘real world’ living.”

For the teachers and administrators, the tours and discussions with business leaders have been very interesting and useful.

“What I’ve learned is that there are more job opportunities in our students’ backyard than they may realize. There are some really good companies to work for in and around Tyrone,” said social studies teacher Todd Cammarata, who has been participating in the project.

Another point that teachers have heard from local business leaders is that not all students need to attend a standard four-year college in order to begin a successful career. Students can attend a trade school or even go straight into the workforce and make a stable living in central Pennsylvania.

In fact, upper management in many of the local businesses that the teachers visited are made up of people that worked their way up from entry level jobs.

¨Staff have gained knowledge about jobs that are available in the immediate area and can talk to students about these opportunities,¨ said Tyrone’s Director of Curriculum Leslie Estep, who heads the project.

Teachers hope to use what they learn to better help their students prepare for their future. Most schools already focus on making students college ready, but Tyrone teachers are also learning how to make students workforce ready as well.

“I am looking for concrete examples of what we need to do as educators to get students ready for the workforce,” said ELS teacher Rebecca Barlett, who attended several of the tours.

I am looking for concrete examples of what we need to do as educators to get students ready for the workforce

— Rebecca Barlett

Social studies and Spanish teacher Olivia Grugan is already thinking of ways to use the information she has gathered through the project to improve her classroom instruction.

“I have some ideas about inviting business owners and managers into my classroom to workshop various skills with my students. I can imagine that partnership could happen in lots of our classrooms, but in different, subject-specific ways,” said Grugan.

Other teachers are hoping to use the connections to create new student projects.

“The Eagle Eye would like to spin this off into a series of stories on local businesses and their impact on the community,” said Cammarata. “I have several students who are excited to write about businesses that employ their parents or other members of their family.”

The companies that teachers have toured include Imler’s Poultry, Tyrone Regional Health System, Reclamere, Link Computer, Kunzler’s MeatsAmerican Eagle Paper, Ward Transport, Jeff S. Long Construction, DelGrosso’s Foods, UMPC Altoona, EMG Brands, Balfurd, Chicago Rivet, Dixon Tool and Die, Albemarle Chemical, Altoona Mirror, and Gardner’s Candy.

Teachers and administrators involved in the project are Leslie Estep, Cathy Harlow, Tom Yoder, Molly Stroup, Tiffany Hoy, Sara White, Olivia Grugan, Christie Taylor, Amanda Oliver, Suzy Burket, Ed Vancas, Chris Shedd, Angela Kline, Todd Cammarata, Lindsey Conlon, Chrystie Williams, Jessica Ellenberger, and Rhonda Dodson.