LEE COUNTY - More than 400 Lee County 8th and 9th graders have attended the Lee County Career Advantage Center during the fall of 2022. Students came from Fort Madison, Keokuk, and Central Lee school districts. In addition, a dozen business and industry partners have provided the students with three unique experiences.
In their first experience at the Career Advantage Center, students participated in a series of activities designed by IowaWorks that examined their personality type and preferential learning and working environments.
In experience 2, students engaged with professionals from local businesses to learn about their education and career path, why they enjoy their jobs and any advice they have for students exploring career options.
Finally, their 3rd visit is the capstone experience, where students once again connect and interact with local business representatives. Students partake in hands-on experiences intended to simulate working in a real-world environment. Students have had opportunities to try welding on a virtual welder, use infrared camera equipment, align pumps with laser equipment, conduct lab experiments, don Hazmat suits, inspect drones, observe a controlled starch explosion, and much more.
Designing these experiences was a collaborative effort between Lee County Economic Development Group and the School District's curriculum directors, utilizing feedback and input from industry leaders and local employers. Plans are underway to develop even more robust programming to help prepare students for fulfilling careers.
“These 8th and 9th grade experiences are one of the first steps in increasing the number of skilled workers in southeastern Iowa by helping students become aware of the many diverse career opportunities available to them in this area," said Don Weiss, Chief Education Strategist at the center.
"Students can begin to work in most of these career opportunities without the need of a four-year college degree. The goal of the CAC is to help facilitate Career Academies that can give students a head start on their career path right out of high school and a path toward future career growth through our partnering with SCC.”
Lee County Career Advantage Center by the numbers:
• To date, 402 students have been through the three experiences;
• 165 from Fort Madison Community School District
• 187 from Keokuk Community School District
• 50 from Central Lee Community School District
• An additional 265 students are scheduled to participate before the end of the school year.
Participating businesses and industry partners:
Iowa Works; Axalta; Roquette; Huffman Welding and Machine; Lee County Sheriff's Department; JJ Nichting Company; Jones Contracting; Iowa Fertilizer Company; Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center; Lee County Conservation; Southeastern Community College; Iowa State Penitentiary
"The Fort Madison Community School District is excited to be building relationships between Lee County Economic Development, business and industry, Lee County Schools and SCC," said Dr. Erin Slater, Superintendent of Fort Madison Community School District.
"These relationships are supporting additional educational opportunities for Fort Madison students in workforce education. We are excited to continue the work started over six years ago and expand these partnerships."
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