Educators engage in ‘Road to Readiness’ day

by Laura Bednar

Independence Local Schools staff, faculty and administrators met with local business people to gain insight into a variety of industries and what employers look for when hiring.

The daylong session in March was the second installation of the “Road to Readiness” program launched last year, wherein school leaders heard from Independence business executives about today’s workforce.

The city of Independence partnered with the schools to bring the day to fruition. Economic Development Director Jessica Hyser said in a news release if students develop skills needed to find jobs earlier in life, it increases their chance of success.

Attendees first heard from Jacob Duritsky, vice president of strategy and research at Team NEO, about local economics. Educators then traveled to the following businesses to hear presentations: Liberty Home Mortgage, Kurtz Brothers, Grice Corp, CBIZ, CSA Group, Redwood Living, Wild Republic and MCG Architecture.

The keynote speaker was David Hughes, vice president and general manager of Gray Media/WOIO-TV19. The company plans to break ground on a new building in Independence this fall. Hughes said he got his start after taking a video production class in high school. This led to shooting, editing and producing sporting events.

He majored in mass communications in college. “I trace it all back to the opportunity I had in high school to be exposed to something new,” he said.

Hughes said high school students are searching for their passion right now and what educators do “has the potential to change their lives.”

During job interviews, Hughes said he is seeking candidates excited about their careers. “We’ll teach you the rest,” he said, adding that students should look for staff email addresses on a company’s website to connect and ask questions.

He said he previously hired people with two-year college degrees or no degree at all.

One takeaway of Independence Middle School English language arts teacher Rio Vincz: “I learned a four-year degree is not everything anymore. Until Ohio says a degree is not necessarily needed, it won’t be easy to shift [mindsets].”

Hughes said writing skills are something recent graduates are lacking.

Independence High intervention specialist Bill Hall said, “It’s nice to see businesses in the community and learn what students are lacking and need.” He noted that communication skills and time management are skills that students lack.

Superintendent Ben Hegedish said in a press release that the partnership between the city, schools and businesses will “help us explore and develop future-ready programming for students at all grade levels.” ∞