Great things are happening in Ohio schools. Our teachers care deeply about their students, our pupils truly want to succeed, and our district and school staffs are setting examples of resourceful, visionary leadership for all of us. The State Board of Education’s Education Spotlight program challenges board members to identify outstanding districts, schools, teachers and students in their state board districts and showcase them at monthly board meetings. We think you, too, will be inspired!

December 2018

A Community’s Commitment to its Next Generation

EdSpotlight_AMBE-2.jpgRegina Dues and Delany Farley are getting paid to do what they love. Delaney, a college freshman, worked for a local TV production company creating commercials, editing videos and preparing social media posts to give her the skills needed for her future career. Regina, only two years out of high school, runs a family-owned winery with her father, where she also has her own art studio.

What gave these young women such auspicious career starts? It was the strategic work of the Auglaize Mercer Business Education Alliance (AMBE). This private group of Auglaize and Mercer county business, service group and school leaders works to help K-12 students learn about and explore career opportunities so they can prepare for skilled local jobs, forming the pipeline for a sustainable workforce. Sixty local employers completely fund AMBE’s work through three-year pledges.

The alliance helps teachers learn about local career opportunities and skill-needs trends so they develop a picture of the opportunities open to their students. The alliance works with schools to help students pinpoint their aptitudes and interests; discover related, local career opportunities; and prepare for those jobs. For example, when Regina discovered her passions were agriculture and art, her school guidance counselor helped her figure out how to put them to work. The winery and art studio were born.

Like many shrewd undertakings, AMBE grew out of need. Jack Buschur, owner of a local electrical company, had exhausted the supply of qualified candidates from local career centers and learned that guidance counselors in the two counties’ schools knew very little about the skilled trades or local workforce needs. Buschur learned that other local employers also couldn’t find skilled graduates to fill the jobs they were offering.

In 2014, Buschur and Mercer County’s economic development director formed a 501(c)3, worked to get local businesses involved and raised funds to hire a full-time executive director for what became AMBE. Shelly Busse, current executive director, described the group’s ambitious work to State Board of Education members in December 2018. Among other things, it invites groups of teachers to tour local businesses each summer, arranging for them to receive CEU credit for attending. Next, the group wants to offer parent tours of local enterprises to further broaden awareness of the opportunities that await area grads.

This year, AMBE sponsored the Inspire Career Concert for high school seniors, where 1,500 students attended a morning career fair, heard afternoon speakers, a popular band and went back to the career fair “more inspired” in the afternoon. Local business representatives came to offer students the opportunity to network with them and meet presenter Jeremy Bout, whose nationally known company produces films that equip teachers and industry leaders to INSPIRE students and parents. Both counties are now working with Bout to produce promotional materials.

AMBE focuses its efforts on high school juniors and younger who have a bit more time to prepare for the jobs ahead of them. AMBE’s Talent Connection Forum this year gave 1,100 high school juniors the chance to meet with AMBE-member businesses offering jobs in 45 professions. Students dressed in business attire, brought personal business cards and found out what education and skills they’ll need to qualify for jobs and careers that interest them. Business representatives led roundtable conversations with students, answering questions about their own career paths.

Clearly, AMBE is offering life-changing opportunities to Auglaize and Mercer County students. The State Board of Education commends AMBE members for their caring commitment to the counties’ next generation.

Last Modified: 12/27/2018 10:33:34 AM