Local schools teaching business practices in the classroom

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Schools are now being graded on whether students are college- and career-ready in the state report cards.

“Prepared for Success” is a category of the state report card. It looks at College Credit Plus courses and industry credentials.

This week, schools involved in the Mahoning County Educational Service Center’s program, “Mahoning Valley Prepared for Success,” are starting training to make sure every student is ready for a job or college after high school. This comes after a nearly $1 million grant, which was announced in June, was awarded to the program to fund innovative education projects.

A consortium of Mahoning Valley school districts are involved in the program, including the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.

A big part of the program is meshing together business with education — blending in real-world business practices in the classroom. Students can explore a career path and start working on credentials and training while in high school.

“What we’re trying to accomplish here is to help school districts provide more than just a diploma and more than just college readiness,” said Mahoning County Career and Technical Center Superintendent Ron Iarussi.

Iarussi said it has been the practice of the school for years to prepare students for college. With the grant, the school was able to hire four career counselors to work in partnership with participating districts.

“The philosophy over the last couple of years is that we need to kind of go back to what we used to do, probably in the 70s and 80s, where we had programs in schools for kids that might not know exactly what they want to do with themselves, give them an opportunity to explore some career pathways,” he said.

Trista Warren, project grant manager of Mahoning Valley Prepared for Success, said high schools should be gearing their curriculum toward real-world experiences.

“Why not teach kids to write policies, and why don’t we ask the businesses and their boards to come in and say, ‘Well, this is what a policy really means. This is how we go about approving the policies.'” Warren said.

John Zehentbauer, assistant superintendent at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, said a robotic certification credential is among one of the recent additions.

“Honda of America, GM, a lot of our big industries, and anybody that has a robot and operates in their shop, that credential is very valuable to them and those students are highly in-demand,” he said.

Marc Silvestri’s automotive class at the Career and Technical Center is learning the skills needed to become an auto technician, but also about other job opportunities in the industry.

“If they have good computer skills and they understand everything about a car, they have an opportunity to work in a parts department. There’s an opportunity to be a service manager. All of these areas need addressed. It’s just not fixing cars,” Silvestri said.

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