In the Spotlight

Educator in the Workplace: Exploring Upper Valley Resources

By Lauren Hoehlein, UVBEP Intern

I often write about the programs and opportunities that the Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership organizes, but as a member of the staff of UVBEP I don't generally get an inside view of how these programs work on a participatory level. Recently, however, I experienced one of our activities as a participant. On October 9th, I was able to take part in UVBEP's fourth annual Educator in the Workplace program, as I visited the Northern Stage theater production company in White River Junction, VT.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the production manager at Northern Stage, and was introduced to Kristen Suprenant, a social studies teacher from Rivendell Academy, and a participant in the program. We were given some background on the company, a brief update on the shows currently in the works, and started the tour. She led us throughout the different departments and facets of the company, from the administrative offices to the set building and construction areas to a rehearsal in the theater itself. We also got an overview of the various programs they run for the community, as well as the challenges and benefits to running an independent theater company in a rural area such as the Upper Valley.

The experience reminded me how important it is to incorporate the community in our schools and, perhaps more importantly, to keep educators in touch with their students' communities beyond the classroom doors.

Educators gather after their workplace tours to share ideas on how to bring what they've learned back to the classroom.

The main purpose of this program has always been to give educators the opportunity to explore Upper Valley resources for teaching. This year, UVBEP sent out twelve teachers from nine different schools in the Upper Valley, with destinations ranging from Pike Industries, Inc. to the Hanover Co-op. As David Stockwell, a high school physics teacher from Claremont, said, "Sometimes teachers need to get out of the classroom to see how the community and business world function." All of the participants agreed that it was highly useful and interesting to see how their individual areas of specialty were applied outside of an educational setting, whether in developing software or creating diet guidelines. After the various tours and programs, a collaborative conference was held so that the participants can share their experiences, discuss their thoughts on the usefulness of such programs, and work on developing sound and realistic goals for the integration of their experiences in the classroom. As one high school teacher, who toured the Dartmouth Hitchcock Videoconferencing department, explained, "It was useful to discuss and listen to the various experiences, to compare and utilize what the 'real world' is doing." Overall, it seemed that the general consensus was quite similar to my own conclusions - that it is of utmost importance for educators to remain connected with the greater community in order to impart on their students the skills and values necessary beyond the classroom.

 

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