Hub 19 to bridge gap between education, industry

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

Local educators and industry leaders have teamed up to revamp education in Dubois County’s public schools.

Thanks to two Regional Opportunity Initiatives grants — one for development awarded in 2017 and one for implementation awarded in 2018 — the county’s education system will soon be more focused on career readiness, particularly with local industries in mind, and Hub 19 is at the center of the shift.

Housed at Vincennes University Jasper Campus, Hub 19 — 19 because Dubois County is Indiana’s 19th county — oversees the use of the ROI grant funds and serves as the bridge between the county’s education system and its industries.

“(Industry leaders) needed a contact person they could go to,” said Rick Gladish, Hub 19 coordinator.

Hub 19 is only the first step in the plan created with the ROI grants.

Now, Gladish and several committees made up of education and industry representatives have shifted their focus to five strategies: developing teacher innovation; developing employability skills in students; creating career-readiness programs; creating engaged and relevant learning environments; and launching an advanced manufacturing, dual credit program at VUJC.

To develop teacher innovation, Hub 19 oversees teachers’ requests for funding from the county’s ROI grant. To receive funds, teachers develop an innovative idea for their classroom, such as a project-based learning program or a way to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — into lessons. They then fill out a form with Hub 19 asking for funds. From there, Gladish and the Hub 19 advisory council, which consists of the four county school superintendents and industry partners, evaluate the request and decide whether or not to award funds.

The focus on developing employability skills and career readiness will work together to ensure that when students graduate, they have the work ethic and skills needed to succeed in whatever post-secondary path they choose.

For that, Hub 19 committees are developing a countywide graduation profile and work ethic certification that adds financial literacy skills, character and leadership to the county’s focus on academics. The committees are also looking at how to add career-readiness activities across grade levels so students begin exploring their interests and skills to see how those apply to a career at a younger age. New initiatives there will include an emphasis on the opportunities local companies offer.

“Overall, I think it’s just a matter of improving awareness of career opportunities among students and parents,” Gladish said.

To create engaged and relevant learning environments, Hub 19 will support more engineering and STEM courses at the schools, as well as project-based learning initiatives so that students take the skills they learn in lessons and apply them to real-world situations. The central goal is to show students that what they’re doing in the classroom is used in the real world, particularly in a career field they might want to pursue.

The final strategy — creating an advanced manufacturing academy at VUJC — is well underway and ready to launch this fall.

The dual credit program, dubbed the Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics Academy, is a collaboration between the university and the Patoka Valley Career and Technical Cooperative that oversees vocational education and local industries. Open to high school juniors and seniors, the program will teach the advanced manufacturing skills that local industries need.

“(It) will embed our technical training in junior and senior year for interested area high school students,” said Christian Blome, dean of VUJC.

Although it sounds like major changes are coming for county education, the main goal of Hub 19 and the five strategies are to improve on the county’s already strong academics to offer more post-secondary education options for students.

Students wishing to attend college will still receive the strong education they do now, but college won’t be touted as the only or best post-secondary option. Students who choose a different route — a trade school, apprenticeship or entering the workforce immediately after graduation — will also leave county schools well prepared for their futures.

“How this initiative will evolve and change over time, we don’t know,” Gladish said. “But we’re excited about what we have started.”




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