COVINGTON, Ga. – Local educators will take on the business world for the second summer of Connect Newton, a teacher externship program geared at connecting businesses with the educational system to further prepare students for life after school.
This summer, 24 teachers will spend a week at six area companies getting a firsthand look at the culture of the businesses and gaining insights to take into the classroom.
“The saying ‘You don’t know what you don’t know,’ is certainly fitting when we talk about Connect Newton. Most educators that go through the program went to college to be educators and have spent their entire adult lives working in that field,” NCSS Director of CTAE and Workforce Innovation Tim Schmitt said. “The inner-workings of the facilities we sent them to as part of this program open up a whole new lens in which they can draw from.
“Students benefit from this in a number of ways, including new discussions about career options, real-world examples of how core subject area content is applicable in our community and stronger relationships with business/industry.”
Connect Newton 2018 Review
With six companies and 24 teachers participating this summer, the program has doubled in size in its second year.
Serra Hall, senior project manager for Covington/Newton County Economic Development, said this year’s program will work towards the school system’s strategic plan and the portrait of a graduate.
“Our teachers that are going through this program will need to look for characteristics in these companies that relate back to the portrait of a graduate,” she said. “They’re going to put their portfolio back together to reference those pieces to give it a real-world experience of why the portrait of a graduate is important to a student but also why it is important in the real world.”
Schmitt said the Connect Newton program changes the way teachers look at industry and in turn changes the way they teach.
“It’s important for our teachers and counselors to experience the world of manufacturing and related industries because they are a key component of breaking down the stereotypes that we have created around that type of work,” he said. “They interface with hundreds of community members spanning from students and parents to business leaders, to faith-based organizations. Who better to help spread the word that Newton County has a ton of great career options spanning all types of fields and all types of educational requirements?
“I often make the point that these facilities have something to offer at every level - there are employees in these companies straight out of high school and also employees working there with graduate-level college degrees. Manufacturing facilities have engineers, technicians and other technical jobs, of course. They also have careers in areas that people sometimes don't equate to manufacturing like departments that include Information Technology, business/finance, human resources, logistics, chemical sciences and more.”
“It’s been a culture change as a whole and that’s what we really wanted at the end of the day,” Hall said. “That was important to us.”
Hall also said Walton County has picked up on the program idea and will implement its own program this summer and join in on the Connect Newton orientation.
“It’s really exciting to see both Newton and Walton do this in tandem and really try to bring this to light with our teachers,” she said.
The program will run June 10-14.