Career Readiness Initiatives Having an Impact in North Carolina


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Lenovo employees worked with students during Students@Work Week 2016.

Photo courtesy of Lenovo

When Raleigh eighth-grader Alex Bender gushes, “They showed us what they do at their jobs and how it all works, and how they plan out roads and maps and stuff — and I just thought it was really cool,” he isn’t describing a fantastic summer camp. He’s describing what he and his classmates at the Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy learned last year when the North Carolina Department of Transportation visited their school. This experience helped him realize that being a civil engineer and designing roads was an actual job and “might be something that I want to do.”

Alex’s excitement exemplifies why NCDOT and hundreds of businesses and schools throughout the state take part in the North Carolina Business Committee for Education’s Students@Work program every year. NCBCE is a nonprofit housed in the Office of the Governor that is made up of businesses that support workforce development in North Carolina. NCBCE Board of Directors Chairman and Deputy General Counsel for Duke Energy Bo Somers says the collaboration between businesses and schools is needed because many employers are seeing a gap between the skills they need their employees to have and the skills their employees actually possess.

Students@Work and its cousin program, Teachers@Work, are career readiness initiatives sponsored by NCBCE in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction that are helping to address this gap by connecting businesses throughout the state to their future employees and the teachers who influence those students in the classroom.

“Many students and teachers in the school setting know what it takes to succeed academically,” Somers says, “but they don’t always have a true line of sight into how that academic learning translates into a career.”

Students@Work

Students@Work focuses on exposing primarily middle school students to what Somers calls “the real-world of work” through job shadowing programs or in-school visits.

“The goal of the program is to expose students to the many varied careers that are available in North Carolina businesses and the skills and education requirements that are necessary in order to be successful,” Somers says.

While Students@Work programs can be implemented any time during the school year, the designated Students@Work Week for 2017 is March 22-30. Andrew Warren was an eighth-grader last spring at Belmont Middle School in Gaston County when he and his classmates participated in a PSNC Energy job shadowing experience. “We got to hear speakers and see demonstrations and pump natural gas into cars and see the fire pit and all this different stuff,” he says. Most importantly to PSNC, Andrew says the experience “got me thinking about engineering and management.”

PSNC Energy Public Affairs Specialist Persida Montanez says this is precisely what her company wants to hear. “It’s a great opportunity to take students behind the scenes and expose them to career options they may not have known about or considered before,” she says.

Lenovo participates in the program by bringing students from Wake, Durham, Orange and Guilford counties to its Morrisville campus. Students learn about the company, tour labs, ask engineers questions and then, in partnership with the Kramden Institute, refurbish computers that are later given to students who don’t have a computer at home.

“They learn about all the different parts of the computer, replace hard drives, screw the tops back on, and get them cleaned up and in great condition to give to other individuals,” says Lenovo Community Engagement Manager Suzie Koonce. “While all this is happening, each student and a Lenovo employee are having informal conversations about career paths, and it’s very much like mini-mentoring sessions.”

Teachers@Work

Teachers@Work addresses the other end of the educational spectrum by inviting teachers to businesses across the state for a week during the summer. The teachers are asked to develop a lesson plan based on their experiences that incorporates hard and soft skills being used in the workplace.

At least two teachers from each of the state’s eight education regions will participate in the 2017 Teachers@Work program, bringing the total to at least 45 teachers and 30 businesses participating throughout the state. The lesson plans developed as a result of Teachers@Work are uploaded to NCDPI’s Schoolnet system so they can be shared with teachers across the state to extend the program’s impact.

Rob Leichner, a secondary math professional development curriculum specialist for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, taught math at West Mecklenburg High School when he partnered with architectural and engineering firm LaBella Associates as part of Teachers@Work.. He says one of his favorite experiences involved seeing how math is used in the workplace — something he could go back and share with his students to answer the age-old question, “When am I going to use this?”

Leichner says of the LaBella Associates employees he got to work with for the week, “Every single one of them had a graphing calculator on their desk, and you could see the formulas they were using, and you could see how they applied them. They really do use math every day.”

Orange High School career and technical education teacher Kentellia Wingate partnered with technology nonprofit MCNC in Durham. She believes Teachers@Work  is especially beneficial for those who have taught their entire career because it “allows them to get a firsthand view of another workplace environment,” she says, which offers  knowledge teachers can then transfer to their students.

MCNC President and CEO Jean Davis says these far-reaching impacts are why her company participates in Students@Work and Teachers@Work. “The more we can start early, helping kids understand the modern workplace and the fantastic opportunities that exist here, the better off our business and our economy and our society will be,” she says.

Learn more about Students@Work and Teachers@work at ncbce.org.

Robyn Kinsey Mooring is a Durham-based writer and the mother of two boys.

 

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February 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Join park staff in collecting data for the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
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Dorton Arena
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Studio School of Durham
1201 W. Woodcroft Pkwy.
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: Studio School of Durham
Contact Name: Danielle Clark
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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
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Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Morrisville Outlet Mall
1001 Airport Blvd.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
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Cost: $32 and up

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Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Carolina Ballet presents Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers, dueling families, intrigue, deception and a tragic twist of fate. Dramatic sword fights, stunning costumes and...

Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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4709 Ten Ten Rd.
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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
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Telephone: 919-460-3355
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2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
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3501 Highway 54 W.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
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120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

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111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
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Durham, NC  27707
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Baby + Company
226 Ashville Ave
Cary, NC  27518
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Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Telephone: 919-828-3344
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Cost: $3

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Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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5828 Old Oxford Hwy.
Durham, NC  27712
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See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

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The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Website »

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Cost: $45-$175

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
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Cost: $50-$80

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
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Cost: Free

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Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
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Cost: $55/child

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SMILE Camp
6301 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-538-5278
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N.C. Museum of Art
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North Carolina State Capitol
1 E. Edenton St.
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Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

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City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

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Cameron Village Library
1930 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC
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Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
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Cost: $10/person

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The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27703
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Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 919-213-1278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
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Walk with a park naturalist to look and listen for wildlife in the woods and fields as daylight transitions to night. Ages 4 and older; children must be accompanied by an adult. Register...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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More information

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Scraps, who intends to go her own way until she happens onto an adventure that broadens her understanding of herself and the world around....

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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Cost: Free

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First Baptist Church Morrisville
209 Church St.
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Sponsor: The Un-Intentionals
Telephone: 919-475-4211
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Cost: $50-$80

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
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The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.