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Businesses join schools in educating

The marriage of local schools and business has been a profitable learning experience.

Local school districts and businesses have worked together through business-education partnerships to give area students a boost into the workplace for nearly 10 years, and the relationships continue to blossom.

The award-winning programs of United Township High School and the Moline schools underlie the high quality of education the partnerships help to create.

Employers involved in these programs range from the Rock Island Arsenal, Deere & Co., Case Corp. and Metrobank to countless smaller employers.

The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus are among local employers who help open doors for students. The newspapers have worked with Orion High School for more than 10 years.

The partnerships provide a wide range of programs. They support student preparation for work after graduation, offer recognition programs, create internships, offer career shadowing programs, recruit speakers, showcase student programs, and support personal and professional development opportunities.

Moline schools and United Township both have a partnership with Deere & Co. UTHS' Area Career Center assists students from 20 school districts, with apprenticeship programs in 19 career fields.

Rock Island High School's Illinois Partnership Academy was created through the Job Training Partnership Act three years ago.

UTHS' Deere partnership is nearly 10 years old, created in 1989, while Moline's is a year younger.

Moline's business-education partnership coordinator, Linda Davis, borrowed her view of the program from First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who borrowed it from a folk saying.

``It takes an entire community to educate a student,'' she said. ``It takes partnerships like this to do it. This helps to provide ways to educate the entire student body, rather than limit them.''

Placing students in the work force is the main goal of these programs. That was UTHS' goal from the start, said Gary Gellerman, UT's program coordinator.

``When we entered into our talks, it centered around the skills the worker of the future would need,'' he said. ``This whole partnership influenced our curriculum and aimed it at what the worker of the future would need.''

The Rock Island program is aimed at a particular segment of the Rock Island student body.

``It prepares at-risk and other students for entry-level employment in the local job market and other employment beyond graduation,'' RIHS program director Latanya Mickle said. ``I think it is an excellent program.''

The Rock Island Academy focuses curriculum on vocational education, offers work-site learning and creates internships with local businesses, and pays the student, through the grant, for up to 250 work hours.

UTHS offers a diploma endorsement program with the local chamber to show faith in students who want to enter the work force after graduation. It also sets up internships with partners Metrobank and the Rock Island Arsenal.

Moline's program helps set up seminars for eighth-grade students to plan schedules around possible career choices, offers school-to-work initiatives, and sets up internships. A 2+2 program with Black Hawk College and Deere is being explored.

Moline and UTHS also have programs to honor students and staff, and Moline offers art displays and music programs at Deere & Co. facilities.

-- By Kurt Allemeier (February 2, 1998)

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