Rethinking Leadership in Schools to Build a Better Workforce

February 7, 2012

Ran across a really interesting article in the Washington Post the other day entitled, "Rethinking leadership in America’s schools".  The article was written by James H. Quigley, the former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and currently a senior partner in its U.S. firm. According to Quigley, schools have three key leadership development opportunities: formal learning, mentoring and knowledge sharing.  The article says mentoring should be used to complement formal learning:

"To complement formal learning, principals and superintendents could benefit from connections with those outside of their field, including members of the business community. Business leaders are an important stakeholder in our education system, and their active involvement in leadership mentoring could constructively bring another significant player in the “As One” pursuit for excellence in education."

This article reaffirms what John Hagen, Pasco Economic Development Council President/CEO, has been talking about for a while now, which is the need for businesses to get involved in schools and mentor their future workforce.  Why would a business owner want to get involved with mentoring high school students?  "Isn't that a waste of time, when I have better things to do?" Absolutely not!  Mentoring graduating high school students gives business owners a chance to essentially cherry pick the best of our future workforce. When you consider that $800 is the average cost of recruiting and training a new manufacturing employee, it's worth your time to meet future workforce candidates now and develop relationships with them so that you can begin building a stronger, more passionate workforce for the future of your business. John Hagen, Pasco EDC President/CEO chairs the steering committee for Pasco County Schools Career Academies, a group of local stakeholders and business leaders who are working with school officials to improve Pasco County Schools Career Academies. The goal is to bring business and community leaders together to create more hands-on learning through enrichment opportunities such as job shadowing, mentoring, and internships for students. And the good news is, it's working! Rewind to 2009, when not a single Pasco County high school received an A grade, and in 2010 only two earned an A.  Fast forward to 2011, and 6 out of 13 high schools earned an A, with five following close behind with a B. In addition, Pasco’s 2011 high school graduation rate tipped the charts at 88.5%, a record 8.4% higher than the state average. "I have to think Career Academies have had a positive impact on these numbers," says Hagen. "We are seeing it work, but we need more involvement from the business community," says Hagen. The Career Academies Steering Committee is looking for local business leaders who will adopt academies and work side-by-side with teachers and students to vault Pasco County Schools Career Academies to the first ranks of educational achievement. Want to cherry pick your future employees from the best of the best? Here's the link to find out more:  http://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/academies/  

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Jennifer Lachtara
Jennifer Lachtara
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