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Noble Local and Memorial Health Systems: A valuable partnership

The Noble Local School District has developed many business and industry partnerships in recent years, and one of the more exciting ones currently taking a big step forward is with Memorial Health Systems in Marietta.

The latest connection between the two involves the creation of a medical pathway for Shenandoah High students who plan to enter the medical field, and much of that coming to fruition has been due to the tireless work of Stacy Parks, the Workforce Development Specialist at MHS.

For her efforts, Parks was nominated for and was named the recipient of the Outstanding Business Leader award through the Southeast Region of the Ohio School Boards Association Region Recognition Program. She was formally recognized at the Southeast Region’s Annual Fall Conference Sept. 30 at Nelsonville-York Elementary School in Nelsonville.

The Region Recognition Program was implemented in 1993 as a way to highlight outstanding individuals and programs among the 84 districts in 18 counties that make up the Southeast Region.

Parks was nominated by Beth Warner, Guidance Counselor and Career Pathways Coach at Noble Local, who offered the following endorsement:

“Memorial Health Systems is a key stakeholder in connecting the future workforce with opportunities to explore potential health care careers. Stacy Parks, Workforce Development Specialist at MHS, works tirelessly to engage our youth in meaningful work-related activities. From summer internships to real world, hands-on job shadowing, Stacy excels in her capacity to serve as liaison between education and industry. It was through her role on our local Business Advisory Council that the idea of a medical assisting pathway was created – an idea which she has nurtured to fruition, expanding opportunities for students while focusing on developing our regional workforce.”

NLSD Superintendent Dan Leffingwell echoed Warner’s endorsement.

“Stacy Parks individually and Marietta Memorial Health System itself are tremendous partners to schools in our region,” said Leffingwell.

“Our medical pathway is in its first year this fall and it’s a direct result of the support we receive from Marietta Memorial and our primary higher ed partner, Zane State College,” he continued. “We’re excited about this opportunity and look forward to the opportunity to better serve the future employers in our region while providing our students an outstanding opportunity.”

Parks, of course, was honored to be nominated for and to receive the award.

“We were very surprised, and to get that news from Dan Leffingwell was very exciting,” she said. “The relationship between Beth and Dan and myself has been amazing.

“I’m at all of the Business Advisory meetings and talk to them about our needs and they’re always eager to jump in to help,” Parks continued. “Any time we’ve asked, they’ve risen to the occasion. I’m able to come here to talk about our internship program, and there are always students from here who are eager to come down (to Marietta Memorial) and they do amazing work with us.

“Noble Local does a great job of creating a very positive learning environment with real world experiences,” she added. “We’re very excited about the medical assisting program and we can’t wait for the students to come and do their clinicals with us.”

The medical pathway, while in its infancy, is meeting a need of the local business community and providing a tremendous opportunity for the students of Noble Local.

“We talk about how we’re trying to align the work that we do toward college and career readiness,” said Warner, “and that has broadened so much. It used to be that either we were preparing kids for college or for a job, but now we are taking the approach that we are trying to get their skill set to where they’ll be successful no matter what they do. A key piece of that is partnerships with business and industry,” she continued, “because if kids can’t have that real world experience, they may never truly know what it is that they want to do once they leave here.

“Partnerships with places like Marietta Memorial allow us to determine where there are needs; what it is they need and then they’re providing a platform where our students can practice those skills in real world situations,” added Warner. “Our hope is that we are creating a workforce that will become a productive part of this region and community going forward.”

The number in the program was limited for year one, but a plan is in place for it to grow going forward.

“We currently have five students in our medical assisting program,” said Warner. “Our two seniors will do their coursework this year and will have the cost of internship (clinical rotation at Marietta Memorial) covered in the summer; this year’s juniors will do coursework this year and the first half of next year, followed by clinicals in the second half of their senior year.

“From a regional workforce perspective, if we can produce three to five per year, that can help alleviate some of the problems the medical industry is having getting medical assistants,” she noted.

SHS is a regional trendsetter with this concept, according to Warner.

“While other schools do job shadowing and general career exploration,” she said, “outside of the vocational school districts, I believe we are the only district providing a medical pathway.”

Jeff Harrison is Communications Director for Noble Local School District.

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