Teachers Academy Completes 15 Years

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
From left are Jan Runyon, Cleveland Utilities; Brad Davis, Tennessee Christian Preparatory School; Deanna Hitch, Cleveland Utilities; Blake Beard and Leslie Humberd, Lake Forest Middle School; Jessica Wooten, Taylor Elementary School; Janice Baker, Lonza; and Pete Cuison, Tennessee Christian Preparatory School. Not pictured is Eric Blackburn, Cleveland High School.
From left are Jan Runyon, Cleveland Utilities; Brad Davis, Tennessee Christian Preparatory School; Deanna Hitch, Cleveland Utilities; Blake Beard and Leslie Humberd, Lake Forest Middle School; Jessica Wooten, Taylor Elementary School; Janice Baker, Lonza; and Pete Cuison, Tennessee Christian Preparatory School. Not pictured is Eric Blackburn, Cleveland High School.

Teachers Academy, a workforce development program of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, has been pairing local educators with local industries for 15 years. The program allows a teacher from one of the local schools to work on a special project for an industry for a four-week period during the summer.

“Teachers Academy brings relevance back to the classroom,” Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools, said during this week’s recap of the 2013 program. He pointed out that educators spending time in a non-education environment is vital for students to learn what is necessary for preparing to be a part of the workforce.

Janice Baker, human resources supervisor for Lonza, also noted that Teachers Academy “gives us an extra pair of hands.”

Lonza has participated in Teachers Academy for 12 of the 15 years of the workforce development program’s existence and says the program “helps us with resources. It allows us to work on projects that are vital to our operations but that we may not have time to get done.”

Teachers participating in the program receive a stipend from their respective business for their four-week project. They are required to provide a summary of their experience and a lesson plan based on their work project. The teachers in this year’s academy noted particularly that teamwork and communication skills are critical for working in local industries.

To date, Teachers Academy has placed 102 teachers from Kindergarten through post-secondary classrooms in 19 individual businesses/industries. This summer four industries and six teachers participated in the program.

Participating in this year’s Teachers Academy were Brad Davis, Tennessee Christian Preparatory School, who worked with Jan Runyon and Deanna Hitch at Cleveland Utilities; Blake Beard, Lake Forest Middle School, and Eric Blackburn, Cleveland High School, who worked with Bill Wallace and Mark Phillips, respectively, at Cormetech Environmental Technologies Inc.; Pete Cuison, Tennessee Christian Preparatory School, and Jessica Wooten, Taylor Elementary School, who worked with Judy Tickel and Janice Baker, respectively, at Lonza; and Leslie Humberd,  Lake Forest Middle School, who worked with Nate Wilson, at Whirlpool Corporation, Cleveland Division.

“We appreciate the stalwart businesses who continue to participate in Teachers Academy,” Gary Farlow, Chamber president and CEO, said. “We see this as a means to an end for our schools and our businesses.”

Sherry Crye, Chamber director of workforce development, commented during the summary session that “businesses are always pleased with the work ethic the teachers bring to the summer projects and also see the benefit of teachers sharing their experiences with students.”

She said, “When teachers return to the classroom with their business/industry experience, students are able to relate their course work to a real-world situation. The relationships developed between education and businesses are important as well. Businesses become ongoing resources for our schools.”

If Teachers Academy is a program that could benefit your teachers or businesses for the summer of 2014, please contact Sherry Crye, director of workforce development, at 472-6587 or scrye@clevelandchamber.com


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