The Center of Workforce Innovation’s READY NWI initiative gathered educators from across Northwest Indiana on Monday morning for their 7th Annual Summer Institute for Educators. The event aimed at connecting educators and finding ways to meet the skill and education needs of Region employers.
This year offered a more dedicated focus than previous years, though, and discussed the new College and Career Pathways and graduation requirements. These new requirements, which will be fully implemented with the class of 2023, will help create a more career-ready graduate and allow them to more successfully meet the needs of employers.
Director of Strategic Solutions for the Center of Workforce Innovations and READY NWI Manager, Roy Vanderford, expressed excitement for the event and the growth it has seen over the years.
“This started about eight years ago, and there’s now 40-50 folks in this room each month's meeting,” Vanderford said. “This is the 7th Summer Institute and it usually has over 100 educators in attendance. This one is a little different, it’s very focused on the new requirements that will roll out. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s good news, this is what we’ve been working on for about seven years.”
Monday’s event brought educators together for panels, networking, and targeted breakout sessions intended to enhance their understanding of the state’s new requirements, as well as address issues they may be facing at their schools. Focusing on employability skills, plans for at-risk students, dual credit pathways, and more topics, the sessions offered insight, collaboration, and advice from fellow educators.
Sandra Alvarez, Senior Associate with Workforce Engagement for the Center of Workforce Innovation, finds herself addressing these issues often throughout the community.
“In a day like today, when we have a low unemployment rate, the need for employers to know what’s happening in this room is very timely,” Alvarez said. “Working on a pathway to an employer and then helping that employer with additional resources is a perfect scenario. When an employer understands that work ethic certificates are occurring, and at the largest rate in the state, our employers understand that this is a way to lower the cost of bringing on these folks.”
Building on this idea was Alicia Kielmovitch, Director of Policy & Legislation for the Indiana State Board of Education. Through her presentation she fielded questions related to the new graduation requirements and how these would lead to a better prepared workforce in the State of Indiana.
“I think this is great. The more we can do regionally, across counties, and across the state is really beneficial. It allows school districts to share processes with each other, allows them to elaborate and create co-ops, and also to start to foster relationships with their employers which is becoming increasingly important,” Kielmovitch said.
For educators, the READY NWI initiative is a valuable part of addressing graduation needs. Schools strive to provide the support students need, and, through collaborative events, are better able to meet that goal.
“I believe that, particularly in Northwest Indiana and with READY NWI, we’ve been pursuing this for probably, five years now,” Dr. Peggy Buffington, Superintendent for the School City of Hobart said. “We’ve been working on dual credit, we’ve been working on CTE, we’ve been working on employability skills and how interesting now that these are graduation pathways and tie it all together. This group in Northwest Indiana, I feel like we’re ready for it.”
Through collaborative events like the Summer Institute for Educators, READY NWI and the Center of Workforce Innovation are making a positive impact on the area. Actively finding ways to create more college and career-ready graduates, and taking the time to explain new graduation requirements to educators truly shows the dedication these organizations have to the Region.
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