On August 1st we participated in the first Manufacturing Academy. Henderson Economic Development organized the event. The event was a daylong professional development event for approximately 70 educators.

Audubon Metals, Gibbs Die Casting, International Paper, and Pittsburg Tank and Tower Group hosted principals, guidance counselors, mental health support specialists, family resource and youth services, school resource officers, and other administrators from all school levels in the district.

The purpose of Manufacturing Academy is to provide educators with a unique professional development opportunity connecting the classroom to the workplace. Teachers spent time in the workplace to learn through direct experiences about trends, skill requirements and opportunities in industries to strengthen their teaching to bring relevance to student learning.

As participants entered the facilities, their focus was to observe basic skills, academic skills and learning used in the workplace. Educators gained a better understanding of the level of complexity of the tasks performed at the worksite. As these skills were observed, participants took note of the way the skills can be incorporated into the classroom.

Building the bridge between skills-based and knowledge-based education promotes the goal of preparing students for college and careers. “On the ground” training allows educators to learn about career trends that will affect their students as they guide them to success.

In Henderson, 4,640 people are employed in manufacturing, making an average salary of $68,593 per year. This industry offers numerous pathways to success, with the potential for high pay and a lifelong career. Opportunities consist of robotics, welding, engineering, machine operators, administrators, and more. The key is bringing awareness to careers in the workforce.

Superintendent of Henderson County Schools, Dr. Lawson, highlighted the importance of incorporating workplace skills in the classroom.

“We are grateful for the partnership of local businesses and Henderson Economic Development for providing this meaningful opportunity for our educators,” Dr. Lawson said. “As educators, understanding the significance of workplace skills helps us prepare our students to navigate the world beyond textbooks and empower them to embrace their full potential in the realm of real-life challenges.  We live in the best community, and it only gets better through partnerships like this that help students, industries, and our community succeed.”

Director of Workforce Development and Existing Industries at HED, Whitney Risley, said educators need to understand career opportunities in manufacturing so they can guide students into career pathways.

“As educators are working with students to determine their pathway for a career, we felt it was extremely important for them to see firsthand the skills needed for a career in manufacturing. We also want individuals to know that Henderson has many career opportunities available ranging from entry-level (HS diploma or GED) to years of experience and/or degrees. The existing industries are ready to show off the products they make and career opportunities in Henderson,” Risley said.