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Hillsboro schools seek to 'build bridges' to employers

Business people, officials, educators, and students gathered Monday night to explore how greater involvement between schools and businesses might increase opportunities for students to remain in or return to their community rather than feel as if they must leave to find economic opportunities.

Hillsboro High School principal Tyler Weinbrenner organized the evening with school counselor Jill Hein based on an idea from Tucky Allen of Kansas Workforce One.

“Workforce One helps schools partner and ‘build bridges’ with their local community businesses,” Weinbrenner said after the event. “My hope is that our school can continue building community connections.”

The idea is to get students thinking about their plans after high school and be exposed to various career pathways. 

In addition to Allen, among those speaking at the event were local CPA Bryce Wichert; Jayson Hanschu of American Family Insurance; D.J. Craighead, Dwight Johnson, Brandi Bishop, and Jenica Weaver of Hillsboro Community Hospital; Dave Mullins of Hutchinson Community College; Heath Whitehouse of Viega; Doug Kjellin of Donahue Manufacturing; Angie Schwerdtferger and Karis Williams of TCW Broadband; Laura Ensey of Emprise Bank; Dave Baker of Baker Brothers Printing; Jessy Hiebert of the Hillsboro police; and Eric Meyer of the Marion County Record / Hillsboro Star-Journal.

Many of the speakers suggested that their own careers had gone in different directions before settling on positions in the local community.

Nearly all suggested that students need to be open to learning new things and that demonstrating an aptitude and desire for learning is at least as important as knowing a particular skill.

Several suggested that students need to learn “soft skills,” including such things as reliability and showing up for work on time.

Before the panel of community leaders gave their advice to the school and its students, Melinda Rangle, associate professor of business administration at Tabor College, spoke about a “building bridges” program she had established while working at the Newton school district.

Career pathways were identified, and advisory groups of local employers were created within each pathway.

City administrator Matt Stiles provided pizza and soft drinks from the City of Hillsboro before the meeting.

“We have a very supportive community and we are blessed with local business leaders that care about the success of our students and school,” Weinbrenner said. “I want students to have the opportunity to learn about postsecondary options so they can start to think about their futures.

“We know that plans change and we never want to lock students in to a certain pathway or career, but I think it is beneficial for our students to be exposed to various career pathways to learn about them and explore them. My hope moving forward would be to continue to find ways to do this.”

Last modified March 27, 2024

 

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