Friday, October 01, 2004

Growing a Workforce

A few of my students had completed the day's exercise on light, shadow, and geometric forms. As I walked around the room checking the work, one of my bright ninth grade girls, looked up at me and said,

"Hey do you want to see the homework I finished for my MEMS class tonight?"

"Of course."

"What's a MEMS class?" a boy at the table asked.

"It's a class Ms Matthews told me about. It teaches us about Microsystems, tiny little parts for computers."

"Night school? With homework? You fail something?"

"No, you idiot! It's about learning something new so I can get a good job, and it's really cool. They're even going to give me $75 dollars to pay for the bus to get there. My mom drives me though, and she's going to let me keep the money."

"Ms Matthews, I want to be in MEMS" the boy at the table pleaded.

"Keep talking to Shenandoah. She can tell you when the next session will be starting."

The smile that started on my face was spreading through my entire being.

I just wish that Bob Schmidt, Colin Drummond, and Fred Lisy could have seen the excitement on Shenandoah's face, and heard the pride in her voice. I wish they could see the interest on the faces of her classmates. These men are not only growing a specialized workforce for their companies right here in Cleveland, but they are changing lives. Three of my students are attending the fall session of the Microsystems Academy.

This is a group of business entrepreneurs who GET IT. They see and understand the connection between education and the economy in Cleveland. They have identified a gap, and figured out a way to fill it so that everybody wins. Hopefully more businesses will follow their lead.

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