BY: LYDIA BAILEY

During the week of July 10 – 14, the Knoxville Chamber partnered with Knox County Schools (KCS) Career and Technical Education (CTE) to pair teachers with local businesses relative to their fields of instruction.

Throughout the week, 30 KCS educators participated in career externships, including two days of job-shadowing and an additional day of planning for the classroom. While on the job, the teachers were given the opportunity to accompany an employee, assist with tasks, and learn more about present demands, challenges, and opportunities in their respective industries.

To close out the program, participating educators spent a full day incorporating their industry experience into classroom practices by creating new lesson plans and activities.

“It was important for the Knoxville Chamber to partner with KCS in helping place CTE teachers with our business partners for two-day externships,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the chamber. “Every company we communicate with, both existing industries and new economic development recruits, are asking about workforce quality.”

He explained, “Getting our educators in front of and familiar with technologies is imperative to our economic success as a region.”

CTE provides students of all ages with the academic and technical skills, knowledge, and training necessary to succeed in future careers and to become lifelong learners. It is committed to providing both students and teachers with quality, hands-on experiences in order to bring real-life expectations and inspirations to the classroom.

“If educators don’t stay grounded in what’s going on in the industry, they can be teaching skill-sets that are out of date,” said Don Lawson, career and technical education director for Knox County Schools. “Having the opportunity to spend time in the workforce keeps them grounded in not only the technologies being used today, but also in anticipating the skill-sets employers are going to require in the future.”

CTE also prepares learners for the working world by introducing them to workplace competencies and making academic content accessible to students through hands-on learning. Currently there are about 12.5 million high school and college students enrolled in CTE across the nation. The high school graduation rate for CTE concentrators is about 90 percent, which is 15 percentage points higher than the national average.

Josh Warrick, driver’s education instructor at L&N Stem Academy, said when “you’re in the same environment every day, it may feel like you don’t have a grasp on what’s going on outside the classroom.”

He explained, “It’s important if you’re teaching a specific subject, to try to get involved in the field that you’re teaching and see how the workforce is developing.” He said this will enable you to “implement what you learn in the classroom to prepare kids for good working relationships once they’re out of high school.”

Participating Companies: 

Cirrus Insight • Designsensory • East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Harper Collision Repair • Jewelry Television • Messer Construction Michael Brady, Inc. • Penny Kleinschmidt State Farm
Tindell’s Building Materials • UT Early Learning Center • WBIR-TV

Participating Educators: 

Arthur Baham, Gibbs High School, Structural – Carpentry

Amanda Brown, Hardin Valley Academy, Web Design

Kelly-Ann Buckley, Bearden High School, Health Science

Sandi Campbell, Fulton High School, Digital Arts and Design

Misty Crowley, Karns High School, Health Science

Josh Garland, Lincoln Park Technology and Trade Center, Inventory Systems

Holly German, Gibbs High School, Health Science

Libby Helle, West High School, Early Childhood Education

Glenda Inman, Bearden High School, Health Science

Clint Lafollette, L&N Stem Academy, Digital Arts and Design

Charles Lewis, Austin-East Magnet High School, Audio/Visual

Rod McMahan, South Doyle High School, Collision Repair

Amy Mitchell, Gibbs High School, Architectural Engineering & Design

Josh Orrick, L&N Stem Academy, Driver’s Education

Nicki Roach, Bearden High School, Health Science

Vivian West, Hardin Valley Academy, Computer Programming