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Cathy Nichols-Washer and Pat Patrick Adopt a school and help prepare students for jobs

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Cathy Nichols-Washer

Pat Patrick

Lodi Unified School District Superintendent Cathy Washer

“Although the district recognizes the tradition of graduating at the Grape Bowl, the new seating capacity would necessitate limited ticket allocations to each student.”

Pat Patrick, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lodi District Chamber of Commerce

“Many of these (strategies) won’t be done by (2020), but we can hope to accomplish some and get started on most of them. But we have to work together as a community and design our future now, rather than let things just happen by happenstance.”

Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 12:00 am

Creating a competent work force for the future, which every employer must have, goes a long way in helping create a strong local economy and better economic future for all in Lodi. Developing that competent work force will involve Lodi businesspeople getting on campuses in our community.

The Lodi Chamber of Commerce and Lodi Unified School District leaders have paved a way for businesspeople to communicate their best work-related advice to kids — information they need to be successful after their school years.

As any employer knows, many students are not "work-ready" after graduation. The "SYSTEM" does not get high marks for preparing kids for a work life in many instances. We know not all kids are college-bound; higher college tuition costs will only increase the number of kids not going on to college. That means more kids will be needing employment. Business owners tell us they wish they had a labor pool of young people that were "work-ready."

What does that mean, "work-ready"? Many things; for starters, it's the entry level. Young people need to know that showing up on time is important. And do so with an attitude of gratitude instead of entitlement. To be aware they are part of a "team" of employees and how well they do their part affects the whole team's performance. They need to be able to communicate verbally, expressing themselves without saying the word "like" three to nine times in a sentence. Their written skills are important, because other team members need to be able to make out their handwriting. Basic math is important to many jobs and really important in balancing their personal checkbooks.

Educators say many kids are detached from learning because: a.) They don't have a vision for their life yet; b.) They do not have an idea of what they might like to do for a career or a job; c.) They have not been exposed to various industries locally, so they don't know what may be available to them; and d.) sadly, many young people have not had an adult show or tell them that with a little work and focused effort, you can achieve something worthwhile. And that repeating that process of work and focused effort creates a pattern for a successful life.

How business can help ...

Partners In Education is a collaborative effort between the Lodi Chamber of Commerce and Lodi Unified School District. PIE brings schools, businesses, and community members together in order to create a strong future for Lodi and for each student in its schools. Business and school leaders, public and private, are working together to make a connection between the world of school and the world of work.

The concept is not new. Having more adults in schools to help motivate and teach students, as well as serves as positive role models, has always been an effective strategy to help improve student achievement. PIE focuses on that concept, but also provides a structure to make it happen. Individuals, businesses and community groups are volunteering on many of our school campuses to help provide the best educational opportunities possible for the children of Lodi and to prepare them for a successful career.

We are looking for companies or community groups to "Adopt a School." This is working really well on several campuses. The businesses help meet the school's needs through volunteering, and the students learn about that company, what it does, what academics employees use in their jobs and, as a bonus, the business' employees come together and enjoy tremendous satisfaction in doing something very worthwhile.

Volunteers are talking to students of all ages about careers, job skills, and economic literacy. They are reading to students, helping with class assignments, sponsoring special activities and working on school beautification projects. Teams of business leaders have trained high school students on interview skills and work ethics. Businesses and service groups are adopting schools, having a real impact forming personal relationships with the school communities and meeting the needs of students.

All of these efforts are helping to strengthen the city of Lodi, and they are helping children find their futures. Whether you have one hour to give or can make a long-term commitment, your participation is greatly needed. One phone call will get you on your way to making a difference. PIE will tailor your time to a school's needs and student success. It's up to you; don't bemoan the situation, become positive change in young lives. After all, there's always room for PIE. Call us today and find out how to get a piece for the future.

Cathy Nichols-Washer is the superintendent of the Lodi Unified School District and Pat Patrick is president of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce.

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