Teachers learn about businesses during tour
Teachers in the Fairfield Community School District toured several local businesses Friday as part of an in-service day.
Eight businesses offered tours to groups of teachers, who learned about each business’s history, its products, and skills necessary to work there. The project was a collaboration between the school district and the Fairfield Economic Development Association.
The eight businesses that hosted tours were Marathon Foto, Dexter, The Sky Factory, Cambridge Investment Research, the Jefferson County Health Center, Agri-Industrial Plastics, Creative Edge Mastershop and Bovard Studio. Rather than visiting all eight businesses, the teachers broke up into small groups that visited two of the eight sites.
Fairfield Community School District superintendent Art Sathoff said Friday’s in-service day was devoted to helping teachers gain a better understand of how businesses operate.
“As an example, Agri-Industrial Plastics gives you a look at advanced manufacturing, which is different from what we think of as a factory job,” he said. “I think that awareness on the part of teachers is important because it can have an impact on what they do in the classroom.”
Sathoff said teachers are going to pass on what they learned from Friday’s tours to their respective principals. He said he doesn’t necessarily expect the teachers to create lessons or units based on business, but he hopes the knowledge the teachers gained will allow them to prepare students for the world after high school.
Sathoff said the school district is doing more and more to prepare students for careers, and not just at the high school level, but at the middle school level, too. Knowing what jobs are available will help students make a decision about the skills they need to acquire in their post-secondary education.
“We know a high school diploma is not what it was once upon a time,” he said. “A lot more education is required today. A four-year college degree is what a high school diploma used to be.”
Sathoff said it’s critical students and teachers alike are well informed about the job opportunities available to them to ensure they choose a career path that will pay dividends once they graduate from a trade school or college. He said college graduates across the country have been struggling to find work in their field, with 50 percent of them either unemployed or underemployed.
Apart from helping teachers understand the skills businesses look for, Friday’s tours served as a reminder that graduating seniors don’t have to go far to find high-paying jobs.
“The eight businesses on our list utilize a wide range of skills,” he said. “My older son works at Cambridge, which is nearing 600 employees. I got to know about Bovard Studio, too, because another son worked there as summer help. He was sweeping floors at first, and then he got to go with a crew to Boston to install stained-glass windows. I was in Honolulu once and I saw a floor that Creative Edge had done there. I hope what our teachers got out of the experience is that we have amazing local businesses with worldwide reach, and I hope that awareness gives them a long-range view of education.”
Sathoff said another advantage of the tours is that teachers will have an easier time showing their students how the material learned in the classroom is relevant to real-world employment opportunities. He said most teachers have probably experienced the challenge of explaining why it’s necessary to learn a concept to a student who doubts its relevance and sees no reason to learn it.
Although Friday’s event was just for the 134 teachers and six principals, students have also had the opportunity to tour local businesses. In February, 30 members of Fairfield High School Future Business Leaders of America toured Agri-Industrial Plastics. Sathoff said nothing but good things could result from a strong partnership between the schools and local businesses.
“I figured out a long time ago that whatever is good for Fairfield is good for the schools, and that whatever is good for the schools is good for Fairfield,” he said.