Real world problems formulated for new curriculum

In the spirit of local involvement in public schools, business professionals and educators across Washington County gathered at the Marietta City Schools district office Tuesday morning to collaborate on new curriculum that focuses on real world experience.

Teachers of all grades paired up with hospital officials, architects and engineers to bring the working world inside the classroom.

The program is a summertime step under Building Bridges to Careers, a county-wide initiative to promote college and career readiness through the pillars of academics, accessibility and aspiration.

“The goal is to get students to see that what they’re learning applies to the real world, and to see it all in the big picture,” said BBC coordinator Tonya Anderson. “They’re coming up with real world problems, then applying them to the curriculum.”

Businesses and teachers have already formulated more than a dozen real life working problems that industries, from construction to health care, face every day, and teachers are working to bring those problems to students to solve.

“We have to get kids to link content area together, and if we can help them face these situations in schools where we can support them, they’ll be more prepared in the real world,” said Tasha Werry, director of community outreach for Marietta City Schools.

Three subgroups were formed by teachers and businesses professionals to create an easy-to-use database of community career resources; build events and activities for kindergarten through 12th grade students and families to build career awareness; and to create unique problem scenario templates for curriculum across all school subjects.

Tuesday was all about the problem scenario building.

Sarah Pytlik, an architect for Pickering Associates, spent time collaborating with engineering technology teacher Steve Foutty.

“We want to familiarize local schools with our company so they really know what we do,” Pytlik said. “Not a lot of high school students might know there is a firm of this size in their area.”

Pytlik said BBC is also striving to encourage local students to seek jobs in their native cities.

“We want them to have a wide array of options and we want them to know there are places right here they can work,” she said.

Foutty, who was one of nine teachers who volunteered to take the seminar Tuesday to receive graduate level credit, said the benefit goes both ways.

“I want to be able to incorporate what they’re doing out there into my curriculum at the high school,” he said.

Teachers and businesses will create real life situations, like what to if a homeowner requests a unique type of new feature for a house, and then business professionals will spend two days each in classrooms working out the problems with students.

“I’m interested in bringing in the community to expose students beyond just me,” said Marietta eighth grade social studies teacher Connie Frazier. “I want them to see beyond just doing work because someone told them, or just memorizing dates.”

The Castle historian Scott Britton, who worked with Frazier, said the opportunity for history education is huge.

“We have issues we deal with at The Castle, and we want to figure out ways to address them and give students a chance to,” he said.

Anderson said Marietta City Schools already has its own job shadowing program and career class, but wants to see the program expand more into other schools.

“We want students to get as many experiences in as possible, because we find that often they’ll think they want to go into a certain career but they have no idea what it’s actually like,” she said.

The next step is for the professionals to come into the classrooms twice throughout the school year.

Tuesday, nine business representatives from seven companies and nine teachers from Marietta, the Washington County Career Center, Fort Frye and Belpre were present.

“BBC is still very new, so we’re trying to grow it and make the community aware that we’re here,” Anderson said.

On Aug. 6 at the President’s Home at Marietta College, BBC will be holding a backyard BBQ fundraiser to raise money for the program’s upcoming events and projects.