Education Edge

What is Education Edge Dickson County?

Education Edge Dickson County is an on-going program of the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce. It originated as the State of Tennessee’s implementation of the federal School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994. The purpose of this act was to promote school and business partnerships that would provide young people with the necessary skills and knowledge for tomorrow’s workplace.

Each county partnership decided locally how to best achieve this goal. The Dickson County Education Edge Partnership was originally funded through the State of Tennessee’s share of a federal grant. It is now a program of the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce.

The Dickson County partnership meets with representatives from many segments of the community to identify local goals. It is governed by a steering committee of citizens, business people, and educators.

What Are the Goals of the Education Edge Partnership?

Education Edge Dickson County developed through federal funding to facilitate partnerships between educators, civic groups, citizens, parents, local government, and the business community. The main goals are the following:

* To set high academic standards and make sure they are met
* To make school more rigorous and relevant
* To get the entire community involved in education
* To improve schooling for all of Tennessee’s students.

To achieve these goals locally, we have targeted several areas that we think will enhance our schools and our community: character development, providing career awareness opportunities, and developing community coalitions to support education

Why Get Involved?

By working together, we can make the Education Edge initiative a success and build a better future for all the community.

Students will have opportunities to see that what they are learning is relevant to their futures. Teachers and Administrators will garner community support for their programs. Businesses will gain better prepared employees who understand that good character and academic & technical skills are prerequisites to success in the business world.

Who Is Involved?

The goal of the partnership is to involve all segments of the community. A directory containing partnership information and members is published and distributed to schools and partners each fall.

Education Edge surveys and involvement in school and EE activities are used to compile the directory. We have attempted to include all businesses that we are aware of who have partnered in Education Edge activities. Also participating as partners, but not included in this directory, are individual parents and interested citizens who work directly with schools.

Currently our membership includes many individual businesses and institutions, civic groups such as local Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, the UT Extension Office, county and city law enforcement agencies, and city and county governments.

What Are We Doing in Dickson County Schools?

. . . at the elementary schools
At the elementary level we are continuing with the Operation Outreach Program. Not only does the program concentrate on the development of good reading skills, but it also emphasizes the importance of honesty, hard work, responsibility, and qualities that our society needs to be successful.

Also at the elementary level, schools are hosting Careers on Wheels. In this activity, business people take vehicles used in their work to the schools. Students then go from vehicle to vehicle visiting with the business people and examining their vehicles. They have a ball being able to get in semis, toot horns, see inside a hearse, try out sirens, etc. These are loud, fun events that introduce students to the work world of Dickson County.

Teachers have been very innovative in providing activities that introduce their students to the fact that what they are learning will help them with careers when they grow up. Their classroom activities are geared to create an awareness of the many different types of work that go on daily in our world.

. . . at the middle schools
In the middle grades we are integrating business with education at the curriculum level. Based on input from a committee of business people and educators, the middle school curriculum includes activities that bring the business world to the classroom. Business speakers in the classrooms, class tours of businesses, job shadowing, technology modules, and career days and activities are components of the career exploratory curriculum.

Career Awareness Day is held in the Spring each year. Eighth grade students from the middle schools spend a day visiting workplaces to get a feel for what different career areas are really like and what educational skills they require. Students also visit the Tennessee Technology Center at Dickson and learn about educational opportunities it offers.

Classroom teachers join forces with business partners in all areas of the curriculum in activities that validate the relevance of school to the students’ futures. In these activities students see first hand the interest of these adults in what students are learning.

We offer the CHOICES program for all eighth graders. This two-day seminar presented by business people is designed to help students make the connection between school and work and to understand that every choice they make has ramifications for who they will become. Everyone gains from this program.

. . . at the high schools

For high school students, we are working to establish internships and apprenticeships with local employers. Also we want students to be introduced to the relevancy of what they are learning through classroom speakers who bring the real world to these young people.

We are developing relationships between teachers and businesses through classroom speakers whereby a business person and teacher work together to create activities for the students. The business partners serve to validate the importance of the curriculum that the partner teacher is teaching.

Also we are working with the high school and business leaders to develop new activities for students and teachers. An effort to acquaint seniors with local job opportunities and the benefits that go with these jobs is being planned. This effort may include plant and business tours, business academies, inservices, and business support for school activities. A new program, The Reality Store, is also planned.

What Are We Doing in the Community?

The Dickson County Partnership is promoting the principles of Character Counts! throughout the community in businesses, government agencies, civic groups, and churches. Programs are presented to explain the philosophy of Character Counts! to community groups and staff training is offered through the Character Counts! Coalition. CC! materials are available at the Chamber office. The pillar of the month is on display at businesses throughout the county.

The partnership provides training seminars to involve the business community in the CHOICES Program. The community is also invited to participate in Operation Outreach.

Education Edge Awards are presented annually at the Chamber of Commerce Banquet to recognize businesses, which have actively participated in the EE program.

How Can You Get Involved in the EE Partnership?
As the business community, parents, and educators work together, there is no limit to what may evolve for our students through the efforts of this partnership. We hope you will want to be actively involved in the planning and implementation of Education Edge activities.

Work With CHARACTER COUNTS! in the Schools and the Community
This year in Dickson County we will concentrate on continuing to build relationships through new activities. Our goal this year is to make Character Counts! a philosophy that permeates our community. We have an active committee which is involving local law enforcement agencies, many businesses, civic groups, and churches.

The program centers around six pillars: TRUSTWORTHINESS, RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, FAIRNESS, CARING, and CITIZENSHIP. If children and adults in our community possess and model these qualities, Dickson County will be a better place.

We are distributing static cling door signs and other materials throughout the community and have several other projects to promote Character Counts!

Volunteer to Present the CHOICES Program
CHOICES is a dynamic program aimed at getting students to take a close look at themselves and learn that they control the choices they make in life. All the materials needed for a successful experience are provided at the training. Fun-filled activities focus on decisions & consequences, money & time budgets and management, and school decisions & their career consequences. Ultimately students see the connections between school and future work.

CHOICES is presented to students in two segments of one hour each, on two consecutive days at the middle schools. Each volunteer is asked to present CHOICES to two eighth grade classes during the school year, if possible.

Sponsor an OPERATION OUTREACH Class

Operation Outreach includes direct partnership between a sponsor and a classroom. Sponsorship of a classroom involves a donation of $250, which is tax deductible. This amount will purchase for each student in the classroom 2 books, which will be studied in the classroom and then be the student’s to keep. The books include a bookplate identifying the sponsor. The themes of these materials emphasize character, respect for others, and responsibility.

Through the participation of the business and civic sponsors, the young students have the opportunity to develop a relationship with responsible adults from the community.
 
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