Monday, December 19, 2016

Students Giving Back Through Service Learning


Guest Blogger: Tom Heiss,
Technology Engineering Teacher and
Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator

I was born in Madison, Wisconsin and am from a large family of seven kids.  One of my older brothers is developmentally disabled and set the bar for me and my family to engage in community service projects in Madison. One such event was a 150 mile bike-a-thon for ARC of Dane County fundraiser to help support people with disabilities.    The ARC of Dane County’s mission is to create opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities to reach their full potential by creating acceptance, respect and participation in daily living skills in the community. 

This cause allowed me to develop a passion for teaching and giving back to others in the community who are struggling and are in need of help from our community.    In my teaching career of 29 years, 25 in Janesville I have been trying to pass on to my students the passion of community service and the benefits of giving back to others in our community. 

I am grateful that the School District of Janesville holds to the same value and commitment.   We have implemented service learning into the fabric of a child’s education at SDJ.  Our mission “to serve our community by educating every child” reflects perfectly the correlation that exists between community and education.

In 1993, one such service project that helped support community and our students was the construction of the Camden Playground. At that time, Craig and Parker High School Construction classes under the leadership of Mr. Jim Adams and Mr. Ron Brown helped build the original park.  At its completion, Camden Playground, became the most accessible playground in the world at that time for people with special needs.  Now in 2016, Camden Playground has been refurbished by Janesville community members and organizations,  including School District of Janesville students. 

Mrs.  Stephanie Davis, Dean of Students at TAGOS Leadership Academy, and her students volunteered to help to rebuild the playground with adult mentors.  They assisted by digging holes, spreading gravel, drilling and securing parts together.  The Camden project took several days and service hours to rebuild.  The final stage of completion is the engraving of pickets that surround the park perimeter to create a fence.


One of my students, Michael Hounshell, is a junior at Parker High School taking many Design and Engineering classes and is also part of the Robotics Club assisting with the building of our Robot for competition. Michael has the same passion to give back to the community through service.  Last year, Michael took a class in Technology Engineering class called MasterCAM with Mr. Joe Kapugia. Thanks to Mr. Kapugia, Michael mastered the program. Master CAM brings  the power of  computer aided design software to enhance machining to cut parts directly on a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Router. This process and machinery is used by companies in Janesville and across the globe. The CNC Router is the machine used to fashion the Camden pickets.

The Camden Pickets are a fundraiser and still for “purchase” at $50.00 each.  Michael engraved the picket for the SDJ which will be part of the fencing at Camden. If you would like to still purchase a picket through your donation, please click here: Camden Playground Picket Donations.

It has been rewarding for me to see Michael grow and give his time back to the community through an amazing Camden Playground project.  I think the power of service community learning projects empowers success in our students now and into the future.

To read more about ARC of Dane County: http://arcdanecounty.org/

Click here for photos of TAGOS assisting with the Camden Restoration: Students Help with Camden Restoration

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Culture of College and Career Readiness


Guest Blogger, Patricia Hernandez
College and Career Readiness Coordinator

The School District of Janesville is dedicated to providing a college and career readiness culture by leveraging relationships with local businesses, community leaders and college and university representatives to ensure that all students graduate college and career ready.  To ensure success upon graduation, we help prepare students for their post high school careers as early as elementary school. At the elementary level, we offer a career guidance tool called ccSpark!, an engaging computer game where students interact within a virtual community.  At the middle and high school levels, students are provided with tools and resources to explore options, including access to resources like ‘Career Cruising’ (through Inspire Rock County) allowing them to explore professions that match their skills and interests.

The following is a snapshot of recent opportunities provided by the School District of Janesville to educators and students supporting our efforts in bolstering the culture of college and career readiness:


PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT for EDUCATORS:

On October 26, 2016, eight area businesses welcomed over 85 educators from SDJ providing tours and a discussion on career opportunities for local students. The businesses included: The Morse Group, City Hall, the Police Department, the Fire Department, Blackhawk Technical College, Mercy Hospital, the Student Build Construction Site, the Art League and Raven’s Wish Gallery.  Educators were able to: 
  • Gain an understanding of the working environment related to a specific industry;
  • Learn about careers available within a specific industry, and how they are interrelated;
  • Connect the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for success in careers within a specific industry;
  • And, connect their curriculum to careers in a specific industry so they will be better equipped to share their new knowledge with their students.


Educators were surveyed after the experience and 86.8% indicated that the business tours gave them an increased awareness of the educational requirements for that particular job/career.




Business and school partnerships are a win-win for all. Educators need informed support from the community and business leaders that provide the awareness of the workforce. Employers need a workforce that can help them anticipate and meet the demands of a constantly changing marketplace. And, students need an earlier, more informed sense of how best to achieve their career and life goals. 

On Tuesday, November 29, Prent Thermoforming opened their doors to our educators for an informational tour hosted by Senior Vice President Mitch Benson.  This tour provided an opportunity for our educators to see Prent and speak candidly with management personnel. The tour began with a brief meet and greet highlighting Prent’s business, followed by a tour, and finished with an open discussion with Benson.  Headquartered here in Janesville, Prent Thermoforming is the global leader and the largest medical and hi-tech thermoforming company in the world.  They employ nearly 2,000 people in nine manufacturing plants worldwide. 


CLASSROOM VISITS by AREA BUSINESSES:

Friday, November 4 Edison Middle School hosted a Career Day inviting businesses to the classroom.  Students heard from people employed in four of their top career choices from a list of over 35 different employers/career representatives present. Students learned about careers in construction, tattoo artistry, radio, computer programming, entrepreneurship, firefighting, military, law, culinary, radiography, banking, acting, reporting, political science and more. The purpose of the Career Day was to develop a foundation for what students need to know and be able to do in order to pursue their career goal.  When students see the relevance of their education, they will strive to work to achieve success. 


Click here for the Edison Career Day Facebook Video Post 

That same day, Parker High School hosted a robotics seminar. Robotic students from Craig and Parker were separated into different groups attending four breakout sessions to learn more from businesses in automation and electrical industries.  Students interacted with and programmed a life-size collaborative robot, spoke to automation college representatives, and interacted with local employers who offered apprenticeships and skill development.  There is a shortage of engineering students in colleges today, and many engineering fields are unknown to students.  Braas Company, Blackhawk Technical College, Automation Solutions of America, and the Local 890 Electrical Workers were eager to work with our students.  


BUSINESS TOURS for STUDENTS:

November 10 and 17, Seneca Foods Corporation opened their doors to 100 Janesville middle and high school students giving them a glimpse of the assembly line magic.  The tour started with a highlight story about Seneca, followed by a plant tour that allowed them within inches of some of the equipment and assembly lines. Students saw various areas where raw materials are received, prepared, and machined for production. Seneca’s tour guide explained that programming and operating complex machinery requires a solid knowledge of mathematics, geometry and even physics. 



If you know of someone interested in being a future guest career speaker, mentor, career fair representative or would like to open their doors for a company tour please have them sign up on www.inspirerockcounty.org.  A partnership can make a HUGE difference.  Help us help our students.